October 25

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

Oct 25 - 10:25:1769 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

“Samuel Douglass, HAS JUST IMPORTED … GOODS, suitable for this and the approaching season.”

Digital technologies, including keyword searches, often streamline the process of doing history. Keyword searches of digitized newspapers, for instance, allow historians to quickly identify items relevant to their research questions. Yet keyword searches are neither infallible nor comprehensive. They often overlook material that historians could readily identify when examining documents, both original and digital surrogates, with their own eyes.

Consider this advertisement for “A Large and Compleat ASSORTMENT of EAST-INDIA and EUROPEAN GOODS” that Samuel Douglass placed in the October 25, 1769, edition of the Georgia Gazette. Note that the advertiser’s name appears in a distinctive font as a headline. That helped to distinguish Douglass’s advertisement from others. Curious about how many times Douglass deployed this strategy, I did a keyword search via Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers, the database where I encountered this particular advertisement. I restricted the date to 1769 and the publication to the Georgia Gazette. I selected “Samuel Douglass” as the keyword. The search returned nine results, but did not include this particular advertisement or any other iterations of it. Realizing that optical character recognition often has difficulty with the “long S” used frequently in the eighteenth century, I ran a second keyword search for “Samuel Douglafs.” This yielded zero results.

I knew that this particular advertisement appeared in the Georgia Gazette because I previously downloaded the issue that included it from America’s Historical Newspapers, yet the database’s own keyword search overlooked it. Finding other instances, if there were any, would require systematically viewing every page of the Georgia Gazette. Digital technology certainly made copies of that newspaper originally published in 1769 more accessible, but doing a keyword search was not more efficient. In fact, when it comes to examining a newspaper page by page, accessing each page via a database of digitized images goes much more slowly than consulting the originals. In such instances, accessibility and efficiency are a trade off. Keyword searches have become a powerful tool for historians … sometimes. Depending on the questions they wish to ask, however, sometimes traditional methods yield more results … and more quickly.

Slavery Advertisements Published October 25, 1769

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.

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

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

**********

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

**********

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

**********

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

**********

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

**********

Oct 25 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (October 25, 1769).

October 24

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

Oct 24 - 10:24:1769 Essex Gazette
Essex Gazette (October 24, 1769).

All of the above BLANKS are … suited, in a particular Manner, for the County of Essex.”

Colonial printers often used the pages of their own newspapers to advertise other goods they sold at their printing offices. Advertisements for blanks (what we would call forms today) regularly appeared in newspapers from New England to Georgia, suggesting that supplying blanks for various purposes to colonists engaged in commercial transactions and legal agreements comprised an important source of revenue for printers. Most advertisements for blanks were fairly short, extending only a few lines. In addition to informing colonists that printers had blanks on hand, those shorter advertisements also allowed compositors to complete columns of text that fell just shy of having enough content. Yet not all advertisements for blanks were mere announcements. Some were rather lengthy, listing the many different kinds of blanks that printers had on hand.

Such was the case for Samuel Hall’s advertisements for blanks that ran in the Essex Gazette on several occasions in the fall of 1769. After its initial publication, Hall even expanded his advertisement to provide a more comprehensive list of blanks as well as describe them in greater detail. He added “Bills of Cost, and Complaints” to the list (with “Complains” inexplicably in a much larger font than anything else in the advertisement). Most advertisements for blanks simply listed the various kinds available, such as “Bills of Lading,” “Apprentices Indentures,” and “Short Powers of Attorney.” Hall, however, supplemented his list with a note that “All of the above BLANKS are neatly printed, on good Paper, and most of them suited, in a particular Manner, for the County of Essex.” He did not elaborate on that “particular Manner,” but this note did suggest to prospective customers that he had not produced generic forms drawn from templates produced by other printers in other towns. Instead, he adapted his blanks to suit the legal and commercial landscape of his community. He likely intended to make his blanks more attractive to local customers than any they could have purchased from other printers, including the many printers in nearby Boston whose own blanks may have been “suited, in a particular Manner” for use in that city. The Essex Gazette offered an alternative source of news to the several newspapers published in Boston in the late 1760s. Its printer offered an alternative source for other printed items produced in the printing offices in Boston.

Slavery Advertisements Published October 24, 1769

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.

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

Oct 24 - Essex Gazette Slavery 1
Essex Gazette (October 24, 1769).

**********

Oct 24 - Essex Gazette Slavery 2
Essex Gazette (October 24, 1769).

October 23

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

Oct 23 - 10:23:1769 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (October 23, 1769).

“McLean is now at Work on a Watch, the whole of which will be finished in the Province, except the Two Plates and Cases.”

During the imperial crisis that led to the American Revolution many advertisers encouraged prospective customers to purchase goods produced in the colonies, launching the first wave of “Buy American” campaigns even before declaring independence. Some colonists expressed concerns about an imbalance of trade with Britain, a situation exacerbated by the taxes imposed on paper, glass, lead, paint, and tea by the Townshend Acts in the late 1760s. To remedy the trade imbalance, many colonists vowed to encourage “domestic manufactures” to strengthen local economies. Producing goods in the colonies created jobs while simultaneously providing alternative products for consumers to purchase. The nonimportation agreements adopted in response to the Townshend Acts made domestic manufactures even more important. Advertisers increasingly called on prospective customers to give preference to goods produced in the colonies.

John McLean, a “Movement Maker, & Watch Finisher,” joined that movement, at least as much as he was able. In an advertisement that ran in the October 23, 1769, edition of the Boston-Gazette, McLean informed readers that he was “now at Work on a Watch, the whole of which will be finished in the Province, except the Two Plates and Cases.” Many American watchmakers did not actually make watches in the colonial era. Instead, they imported and sold watches and repaired watches, but the production of watches took place in London, Dublin, and other cities on the far side of the Atlantic. Given the constraints on constructing watches in the colonies, McLean made his best effort to support the American cause by making domestic manufactures available to consumers. His watches were not exclusively American products, but he suggested to customers that a significant portion of their production did indeed take place in Massachusetts, making them more desirable than imported watches.

McLean did not need to make his pitch any more explicitly. Other items in the Boston-Gazette provided context for readers to interpret his advertisement, as did public discourse more generally. The October 23 edition commenced with “A LIST of the Names of those who have AUDACIOUSLY counteracted the UNITED SENTIMENTS of the BODY of Merchants throughout NORTH-AMERICA, by importing British Goods contrary to the Agreement.” Another advertisement on the same page as McLean’s notice emphasized “North-American Manufactures” available at a shop located “Opposite LIBERTY TREE.” Readers knew how to interpret McLean’s pronouncement about working on a watch constructed primarily “in the Province.” They understood the politics he deployed to market his product.

Slavery Advertisements Published October 23, 1769

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.

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

Oct 23 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 7
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 8
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 9
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 3
Pennsylvania Chronicle (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 9
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 10
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 11
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

**********

Oct 23 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 12
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (October 23, 1769).

 

October 22

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

Oct 22 - 10:19:1769 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (October 19, 1769).

“ELIZA BRAITHWAITE … is removed from Mrs. Wood’s, to Mrs. M’Cullouch’s.”

Eliza Braithwaite, a milliner originally from London, inserted an advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette in October 1769. She informed “the Ladies, and others” that she had changed locations, moving from “Mr. Wood’s, to Mrs. M’Cullouch’s,” still on Market Street but “a few Doors higher up.” She intended to continue pursuing her trade at the new location and called on “those Ladies, who have been kind enough to employ her before she removed” to “continue their Favours.”

Relatively few female entrepreneurs placed advertisements in eighteenth-century newspapers, certainly not in proportion to their presence in the marketplace as shopkeepers and tradeswomen. That made their advertisements notable, then and now. When they did inject themselves into the public prints, some women were bolder than others. Braithwaite took a fairly conservative approach in her advertisement, almost as though she hoped to limit the amount of attention she might receive as a result of making her business so visible. She adopted standard language that appeared in advertisements placed by tailors and milliners throughout the colonies. She did her work with “particular Care.” She charged “the cheapest Rate.” She made hats and other accessories “in the newest and genteelest Taste.” While this could indicate Braithwaite’s familiarity with the conventions of marketing in eighteenth-century America, it might also signal hesitation to distinguish herself too much from her competitors. That she conformed to the expectations of milliners, male and female, may have been the most important appeal Braithwaite wished to advance in her advertisement.

The circumstances that prompted Braithwaite to place a notice in the Pennsylvania Gazette also testified to a conservative approach to advertising. She did address “the Ladies, and others,” but her primary purpose seems to have been maintaining her clientele rather than expanding it. She wanted former customers to know that she had moved so they could find her at her new location and continue employing her. Although Braithwaite’s advertisement exposed her business to much larger audiences, any invitation to new customers was implicit rather than explicit. Did Braithwaite advertise in the Pennsylvania Gazette or any of the other newspapers printed in Philadelphia on other occasions? Whether she promoted her business in the public prints at other times merits further investigation.

October 21

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

Oct 21 - 10:21:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (October 21, 1769).

“He will sell as cheap as are sold in Boston, or any Part of New-England.”

In the fall of 1769, Amos Throop sold medicines at a shop “on the West Side of the Great Bridge, in Providence.” His inventory included “a fresh Assortment of Medicines, Chymical and Galenical” as well as sago and “all Sorts of Spices.” He also stocked a variety of familiar patent medicines, such as “Turlington’s Balsam of Life, Hooper’s Female Pills, Anderson’s Pills, Stoughton’s Elixir, and Hill’s Balsam of Honey.” Throughout the colonies, consumers recognized these brands. Apothecaries and shopkeepers from New England to Georgia advertised these popular patent medicines.

When they did so, they competed with each other. Their advertisements often made clear that they served not only local customers who visited their shops but also those who lived at a distance and submitted orders via letters or messengers. Throop addressed “Families in Town or Country” in his advertisement, acknowledging that he sought the patronage of customers beyond Providence. For all of his prospective customers, Throop pledged that he parted with his medicines “as cheap as are sold in Boston, or any Part of New-England.” Appeals to price were also familiar in eighteenth-century advertisements for medicines, but such comparisons were much less common. Throop did not even bother with assuring readers that he offered the best prices in town. He was so wary of competition from Boston that he framed his prices in relation to prices charged by druggists and shopkeepers there. Lest that raise questions about bargains that might be found elsewhere within the regional marketplace, he provided blanket assurances that he offered the best prices in all of New England. Perhaps claiming that he had the best prices in all of the colonies would have strained credulity!

Incorporating any sort of price comparison into an advertisement was relatively innovative in the late 1760s. It suggested that both the advertiser and consumers possessed a level of familiarity with the local and regional marketplace that allowed them to make or to assess such claims.

October 20

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

Oct 20 - 10:20:1769 Connecticut Journal
Connecticut Journal (October 20, 1769).

Advertisements omitted, will be in our next.”

In the late 1760s, the Connecticut Journal and New-Haven Post-Boy carried significantly less advertising than its counterparts printed in the largest port cities. Newspapers published in Boston, Charleston, New York, and Philadelphia often overflowed with advertising, sometimes prompting printers to issue supplements in order to include all of the paid notices. The Connecticut Journal, on the other hand, rarely had enough advertising to fill an entire page.

On occasion, however, printers Thomas Green and Samuel Green found themselves with too many advertisements to fit in the standard issue. That was the case during the week of October 20, 1769. Advertisements comprised the entire final page of the newspaper’s standard four-page issue. The Greens had more advertisements, but they opted not to distribute a supplement with the issue. Instead, they inserted a note at the bottom of the third page: “(The new Advertisements are in the last Page. Advertisements omitted, will be in our next.)” A headline on the final page proclaimed, “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” (not unlike the headline Peter Timothy inserted in the South-Carolina Gazette two days earlier), though not every notice that appeared below it ran for the first time in the October 20 edition. The Greens alerted readers to the presence of new content, an important service considering that most advertisements usually ran for several weeks, but the “NEW ADVERTISEMENTS” headline did not provide much assistance in navigating the notices on the final page.

The note that “Advertisements omitted, will be in our next” invited readers to peruse the next issue of the Connecticut Journal, but it also served another practical purpose for the printers. Rather than correspond with each advertiser whose notice did not appear in that issue, the Greens issued a blanket statement to reassure their clients that their advertisements had not been overlooked or forgotten. This note also encouraged prospective advertisers to consider placing their own paid notices in the Connecticut Journal or else find themselves at a disadvantage to their competitors who already submitted so many advertisements that the Greens did not have space to feature all of them. Many colonial printers depended on revenue generated by advertising to make publishing newspapers viable enterprises. Brief notices like this one from the Connecticut Journal demonstrate some of the practices adopted by printers in managing that aspect of the newspaper business.

Slavery Advertisements Published October 20, 1769

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.

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

Oct 20 - Connecticut Journal Slavery 1
Connecticut Journal (October 20, 1769).

**********

Oct 20 - Connecticut Journal Slavery 2
Connecticut Journal (October 20, 1769).

**********

Oct 20 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (October 20, 1769).

**********

Oct 20 - New-London Gazette Slavery 2
New-London Gazette (October 20, 1769).