December 18

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?

New-York Journal (December 15, 1768).

“Subscriptions are taken by all the Booksellers at New-York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Charles-Town, South-Carolina.”

A subscription notice for publishing “THE WORKS OF THE CELEBRATED JOHN WILKES, Esq” appeared among the advertisements in the December 15, 1768, edition of the New-York Journal. Wilkes, a radical English politician and journalist considered a friend to American liberties, was widely recognized in the colonies, so much so that the publishers of the New-England Town and Country Almanack inserted his portrait as the frontispiece and emphasized its inclusion as part of their marketing efforts. News concerning Wilkes regularly appeared in newspapers throughout the colonies. As the imperial crisis unfolded, Wilkes became a hero to Americans who opposed Parliament’s attempts to tax and otherwise interfere in colonial affairs. Printers and booksellers sensed that a market for his collected works might exist, but it required proper cultivation.

Such was the purpose of the subscription notice. It deployed several strategies intended to incite demand. Among them, it constructed what Benedict Anderson has described as an “imagined community” of readers, a community drawn together through their engagement with the same printed materials despite members being geographically dispersed. The advertisement noted that “Subscriptions are taken by all the Booksellers at New-York, Philadelphia, Boston, and Charles-Town, South-Carolina.” Readers of the New-York Journal who encountered this advertisement and purchased Wilkes’s works would participate in an endeavor that was more than merely local. They would join with others in faraway places, people they likely would never meet but who were exposed simultaneously to the same ideas and ideals through common acts of purchasing and reading Wilkes’s works. The notice indicated that there were “but a few Sets left unsubscribed for,” suggesting that the community was already vast and those who had not yet reserved their copies risked their own exclusion. To further evoke a common sense of identity, the subscription notice pledged that “The Paper for this Edition was manufactured, and all the Printing performed in this Country.” This was an American edition, produced by colonists for colonists from New England to the Lower South.

In marketing this three-volume set of Wilkes’s works, the publisher resorted to more than invoking the politics of the imperial crisis. This subscription notice sought to foster a sense of belonging among prospective subscribers, suggesting that they formed a community that transcended residence in one colony or another. That common identity gave colonists a shared political purpose, but it also facilitated selling books.

December 17

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Providence Gazette (December 17, 1768).

A NEW EDITION. … THE New-England TOWN and COUNTRY Almanack.”

With only two weeks remaining before the new year, John Carter placed the most extensive advertisement yet for the New-England Town and Country Almanack … for the Year of our Lord 1769 in the December 17, 1768, edition of the Providence Gazette. It filled an entire column. Carter and his former partner, Sarah Goddard, had previously advertised the almanac, commencing their promotional campaign in the final week of August with a notice that was almost as lengthy. Just a few weeks later they ran an updated advertisement announcing that they had published a second edition, implying significant demand for the New-England Town and Country Almanack. Their advertising efforts tapered off as fall continued.

Perhaps other concerns, especially Goddard’s retirement, the dissolution of their partnership, and Carter assuming sole responsibility for the Providence Gazette and the other operations of the printing office, took precedence over advertising an almanac that may have been selling quite well already. After all, this advertisement, even more extensive than any previous notice, proclaimed, “A NEW EDITION. Just PUBLISHED.” Steady demand may have prompted Carter to take the almanac to press once again, but he hedged his bets by making sure that readers of the Providence Gazette were aware that they could purchase it “Wholesale and Retail” at the printing office or from “the several Merchants and Shopkeepers of Providence and Newport.” For the past five weeks Carter ran his address “To the PUBLIC” in the newspapers that he now operated on his own. Publishing and promoting a new edition of the New-England Town and Country Almanack signaled that the transition had concluded.

The transition to sole proprietorship of the Providence Gazette and the printing office did not, however, lead to new strategies for marketing the almanac. Carter’s advertisement reiterated many of the appeals made in earlier notices, including lengthy descriptions of the contents to convince prospective customers of the almanac’s value. He once again emphasized the frontispiece, “a Portrait of the celebrated JOHN WILKES, Esq; engraved from an original Painting,” expecting that the portrait and “some Anecdotes of that most extraordinary Personage,” a defender of American liberties, would resonate with colonists. He did conclude with a new offer: “A considerable Allowance will be made to those who take a Quantity.” Such discounts were standard, but worth underscoring now that Carter had “A NEW EDITION” and only two weeks before the new year.

Almanacs were big business for colonial printers, comprising an important revenue stream. The potential profits may have convinced Carter to issue one more edition of the New-England Town and Country Almanack in hopes of getting his new enterprise off to a successful start. To that end, he devoted significant space in his own newspaper to promoting the almanac, filling an entire column that otherwise would have contained news content or paid notices. Doing so signaled his willingness to take reasonable risks and, ultimately, his confidence in operating the printing office as the sole proprietor.

December 16

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Just come to Hand, and to be sold by Glen and Gregory.”

Connecticut Journal (December 16, 1768).

As fall turned to winter in 1768, the partnership of Glen and Gregory ran an advertisement for “A Neat Assortment of Goods suitable for the Season” in several consecutive issues of the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy. In the process of creating this advertisement, Glen and Gregory most likely wrote the copy and submitted it to the printing office. Then the compositor set the type, making all of the decisions about fonts, format, and other graphic design elements. Occasionally advertisers made specific requests concerning the visual appearance of paid notices, but in most instances they left that part of producing advertisements to the compositors.

In the case of Glen and Gregory’s advertisement, the compositor most likely made decisions about which words appeared in italics and which in larger font. The compositor also elected to center the first two lines of the advertisement, which served as a headline to draw attention. The compositor also made other decisions about the appearance of advertisements in the Connecticut Journal, moving beyond the copy submitted by Glen and Gregory and other advertisers. Lines of ornamental type separated many (but not all) of the advertisements in the December 16, 1768, edition and most other issues. Compositors at other newspapers also placed decorative borders above and below advertisements. In the same week that Glen and Gregory’s advertisement appeared in the Connecticut Journal, the compositors for the Boston-Gazette and Richard Draper’s Massachusetts Gazette also deployed this strategy for dressing up advertisements.

Doing so operated as an implicit advertisement for the services provided at the printing offices where these newspapers were published. In addition to publishing newspapers, printers solicited job printing orders for blanks, broadsides, handbills, and other items. The ornamental type that separated advertisements in newspapers alerted prospective clients to the possibilities of decorative printing for their own orders. Although they did not do so exhaustively, these borders served as specimens of type otherwise not widely incorporated into the news items, advertisements, and other content of colonial newspapers. They offered compositors an opportunity to play with the visual appearance of advertisements and challenged prospective clients to think about the possibilities for their own job printing orders.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 16, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 16-22, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Megan Watts (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

New-London Gazette (December 16, 1768).

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New-London Gazette (December 16, 1768).

December 15

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Pennsylvania Gazette (December 15, 1768).

“There may also be had at the same place … a great variety of millinery, made up in the newest and genteelest taste, by a person lately from London.”

Joseph Wood sold a variety of textiles, apparel, and millinery goods at his shop on the corner of Market and Second Streets in Philadelphia. Like many other merchants and shopkeepers, he published an extensive list of his wares to entice prospective customers. According to his advertisement in the December 15, 1768, edition of the Pennsylvania Gazette, he stocked everything from “scarlet and other serges” and “fine and coarse broadcloths, of all colours” to “mens and womens beaver and other gloves” and “mens and womens cotton and worsted hose” to “gold and silver basket buttons” and “newest fashioned gold and silver trimmings for gentlemen and ladies hats.”

Wood did not rely on this impressive assortment of merchandise alone to attract customers. Instead, he provided an additional service: a milliner on site. “There may also be had at the same place,” Wood proclaimed, “a great variety of millinery, made up in the newest and genteelest taste, by a person lately from London, who understands perfectly every branch of that business.” Whether the unnamed milliner was an employee or a tenant was not clear, but that mattered far less than the service available at Wood’s shop. In addition to acquiring materials, customers could also receive advice about “the newest and genteelest taste” in London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire, and even have their hats and other accessories made by a skilled milliner who was familiar with the most recent trends by virtue of having resided there until quite recently. Furthermore, prospective customers did not need to fret about the costs. Wood assured them that “they may depend upon being served on the most reasonable terms, and as cheap as in London.” He promised the same sophistication without inflated prices. Wood played on the anxieties and desires of residents of Philadelphia eager to demonstrate that they were fashionable and genteel despite their distance from London.

Other merchants and shopkeepers made appeals to price and fashion in their advertisements. They also emphasized consumer choice with their own lengthy lists of merchandise. Wood, however, adopted a business model and marketing strategy that distinguished his shop from the competition. He realized that more readers were likely to become customers if he did more than just sell goods but instead provided services that enhanced the shopping experience.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 15, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 9-15, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Nicholas Sears (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Massachusetts Gazette [Draper] (December 15, 1768).

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New-York Journal (December 15, 1768).

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New-York Journal (December 15, 1768).

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Pennsylvania Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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Supplement to the Pennsylvania Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

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Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (December 15, 1768).

December 14

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

“STOLEN out of the subscriber’s shop, A SILVER LANCET CASE.”

Readers of the Georgia Gazette encountered several means for acquiring consumer goods in the December 14, 1768, edition. They could make choices from among the inventory of merchants and shopkeepers. William Belcher, for instance, advertised a variety of textiles, housewares, and hardware imported from London and Boston. For those inclined to purchase secondhand goods rather than new, David Moses Vallotton, the administrator of the estate of Paul Dubois, offered “HOUSEHOLD GOODS, WEARING APPAREL, some TOOLS and TANNED LEATHERS, and sundry other articles.” Several others executors also announced estate sales and auctions.

Lewis Johnson’s advertisement, however, testified to other ways of obtaining goods in colonial America: theft and purchase of stolen goods. “STOLEN out of the subscriber’s shop,” his advertisement proclaimed, “A SILVER LANCET CASE with five lancets. Ten shillings will be given for returning it, and no questions will be asked. If it should be offered for sale he begs it may be stopt.” Similar advertisements regularly appeared in newspapers throughout the colonies, reporting thefts and describing stolen items in hopes of recovering them. Most offered rewards. Many expressed interest in punishing the perpetrators, though Johnson seemed more interested in recovering the stolen lancet case.

Such advertisements encouraged readers to engage in surveillance of other colonists and their belongings. In particular, they called on the community to be on the lookout for particular items and to assess the possessions of others to determine if they matched those described in the public prints and thus might have been acquired in an unscrupulous fashion. Advertisements for stolen goods cultivated attitudes and behaviors similar to those encouraged in many advertisements that encouraged readers to purchase goods.   Both prompted colonists to evaluate the character and status of others by taking into account the goods they possessed, their comportment, and other factors. Both suggest that consumer goods played an integral role in shaping interactions between colonists. Whether the new textiles sold by Belcher, the secondhand housewares from Dubois’s estate, or the lancet case stolen from Johnson, consumer goods were more than mere things. They possessed meaning that played into the appraisals colonists made of others.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 14, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 9-15, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Nicholas Sears (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

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Georgia Gazette (December 14, 1768).

December 13

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

“Be early in sending their Advertisements for Insertion, and not to exceed Monday Noon.”

Just as Mein and Fleeming marked the first anniversary of publishing the Boston Chronicle by placing a notice in their own newspaper, a day later Charles Crouch celebrated three years of publishing the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal with his own advertisement. Like his counterparts in Boston, Crouch addressed advertisers as well as subscribers, encouraging them to place notices in his publication. In the process, he provided details about the mechanism for publishing advertisements that did not often appear in the pages of eighteenth-century newspapers.

To entice advertisers, Crouch first underscored the popularity of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country, a necessary step considering that it competed with Peter Timothy’s South-Carolina Gazette and Robert Wells’s South-Carolina and American General Gazette. Crouch did not mention either by name, but when he addressed “the Friends to this Gazette” he did note that their “Number are as great as any other in the Place.” In other words, his newspaper had as many subscribers and advertisers as the others. Advertisers could not go wrong by placing notices in his South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal “as the Circulation of his Papers are very numerous.”

Crouch distributed the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal on Tuesdays. To keep to that schedule, he requested that advertisers “be early in sending their Advertisements for Insertion, and not to exceed Monday Noon.” Despite the time required to set type and print the newspaper on a hand-operated press, advertisers could submit their notices as late as a day prior to publication, though Crouch probably limited the number of last-minute submissions out of practicality. He aimed to keep to his schedule for the benefit of his readers, but also to adhere to what seems to have been an informal agreement among Charleston’s printers to stagger publication throughout the week. Until recently, the South-Carolina Gazette appeared on Mondays, the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal on Tuesdays, and the South-Carolina and American General Gazette on Thursday. Crouch asserted that he was “fully determined to CONTINUE always punctual to his Day,” perhaps rebuking other printers in the city for recently deviating from the usual schedule and potentially infringing on his circulation and sales as a result.

Crouch did not offer much commentary on the other contents of his newspaper, other than noting that “Letters of Intelligence, Speculative Pieces, &c. are kindly received” and considered for publication. In promoting the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal as it “begins the fourth Year of its Publication,” he called on subscribers to pay their bills and assured prospective advertisers that he could place their notices before the eyes of numerous readers. He asserted that his circulation was as large as that of any other newspaper printed in South Carolina, making it the ideal venue for advertising.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 13, 1768

The Slavery Adverts 250 Project chronicles the role of newspaper advertising in perpetuating slavery in the era of the American Revolution. The project seeks to reveal the ubiquity of slavery in eighteenth-century life from New England to Georgia by republishing advertisements for slaves – for sale, wanted to purchase, runaways, captured fugitives – in daily digests on this site as well as in real time via the @SlaveAdverts250 Twitter feed, utilizing twenty-first-century media to stand in for the print media of the eighteenth century.

The project aims to provide modern audiences with a sense of just how often colonists encountered these advertisements in their daily lives. Enslaved men, women, and children appeared in print somewhere in the colonies almost every single day. Those advertisements served as a constant backdrop for social, cultural, economic, and political life in colonial and revolutionary America. Colonists who did not own slaves were still confronted with slavery as well as invited to maintain the system by purchasing slaves or assisting in the capture of runaways. The frequency of these newspaper advertisements suggests just how embedded slavery was in colonial and revolutionary American culture in everyday interactions beyond the printed page.

These advertisements also testify to the experiences of enslaved men, women, and children, though readers must consider that those experiences have been remediated through descriptions offered by slaveholders rather than the slaves themselves. Often unnamed in the advertisements, enslaved men, women, and children were not invisible or unimportant in early America.

During the week of December 9-15, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Nicholas Sears (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

These advertisements appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

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South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).

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Supplement to the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (December 13, 1768).