Reflections from Guest Curator Sean Duda

After my experience as a guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project, I believe that I have taken many things that I will carry in my life going forward. I learned about how one person can make a whole group of people that would have otherwise been disinterested in early American history actually look independently and enjoy learning about history. I never knew that one person could have that kind of effect on others. All of my friends from back home have been actively looking at my posts and commenting on them to me. The single most rewarding part of this project was being able to talk to my family about my involvement in this project, because they were all enthusiastic and they all recognized that this project was a great thing for me to get involved with, and this is speaks to Professor Keyes’ dedication to trying to get his students involved with his project.

When we were first talking about the project in class I thought that it was going to be very challenging, and I was not wrong about this expectation. I think I grew as a historian and developed a few skills that I would have otherwise not had at this point if not for working on this project pushing me to learn. These skills include how to do research with digitized archives and public history sites. I believe that these new skills will help me as I continue my studies as a History major. Once work started on the newspapers, I learned that there is great attention to detail that is required when looking at primary sources, and I learned that sometimes the most important things within a primary source can be the briefest statements, depending on your perspective. An example of this would be my entry on March 26 about the harpsichord. I have had a great fascination with the history of music and with learning how to play new instruments throughout my life. When I saw the advertisement for the harpsichord I knew that I needed to talk about it.

While I really liked the harpsichord advertisement, it was not my personal favorite out of all the advertisements that I had the pleasure of researching. My favorite advertisement was actually the one about Jolley Allen from March 27. I had never actually thought about how loyalists were displaced during the war. I also liked working on the runaway slave advertisement from March 29, because I think that both of these advertisements work together to strip away the story of “good guys” and “bad guys” in the American Revolution. One of these advertisements helped me learn about loyalists as the victims of war. The other helped me to explore how the British often looked to be the best possible option for enslaved people to gain their freedom, being as the Continental Army would not even allow slaves to fight in their ranks for a portion of the war.

The Adverts 250 Project was a great opportunity for me, and I am very fortunate that I was able to contribute to it. I am hopeful that I will be able to have more experiences like this in the future at Assumption College. I also appreciate Professor Keyes’s dedication to the project and the guest curators working on it with him.

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