November 21

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

Nov 21 - 11:21:1769 Essex Gazette
Essex Gazette (November 21, 1769).

“Meet at the King’s-Arms Tavern in Salem.”

The King’s Arms Tavern in Salem was more than just a place for colonists to eat, drink, and socialize. It was also a place for men to gather to conduct business of various sorts, sometimes mercantile but other times political.   Two advertisements in the November 21, 1769, edition of the Essex Gazette called on colonists to attend meetings at the King’s Arms Tavern.

The first concerned a meeting to be held that day. Dated November 13, it originally ran in the previous issue, giving a week’s notice about a meeting for the “Gentlemen of the Committees, chosen by the Towns of Salem, Marblehead and Gloucester, on the Affair of the Fishermen, paying to Greenwich Hospital.” This matter concerned “allowances” of six pence a month that according to laws passed by Parliament in the early eighteenth century seamen were expected to pay to support the Greenwich Hospital in England. Since that institution provided for the widows and children of seamen, Parliament deemed it only fair that seamen should provide the funds for its operation. It was sometimes possible, however, to receive exemptions.[1] For the maritime communities of Salem, Marblehead, and Gloucester, this represented an important political issue, one that predated the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, and other legislation passed by Parliament after the Seven Years War,

The second advertisement announcing a meeting at the King’s Arms Tavern gave only one day’s notice. It informed the “Merchants and Traders of this Town, who are Importers of British Manufactures, &c. from Great Britain” of a gathering at the tavern in the evening of the following day. Presumably this meeting concerned nonimportation agreements enacted in protest of the duties imposed on paper, glass, tea, and other goods imported from Britain.

Both of these meetings had political overtones, indicating that colonists gathered at the King’s Arms Tavern, like so many other taverns in colonial America, to practice politics. Taverns were not establishments devoted solely to entertainment. Instead, they were places for exchanging information and formulating plans to take political action. As the events that led to the American Revolution unfolded, meetings in taverns played a significant role, rivaling those gatherings held in colonial assemblies. Power emanated from both venues, not just the one with elected representatives.

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[1] Allyn B. Forbes, “Greenwich Hospital Money,” New England Quarterly 3, no. 3 (July 1930): 519-526.

November 20

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

Nov 20 - 11:20:1769 Boston-Gazette
Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

“TO BE SOLD BY Harbottle Dorr …”

Harbottle Dorr is not a household name today, but Dorr remains well known among historians of early America, especially those who study either the role of the press in the American Revolution or the participation of ordinary people in efforts to resist the various abuses perpetrated by Parliament.

Dorr placed an advertisement for nails and “a good Assortment of Braziery, Ironmongery and Pewter Ware” in the supplement that accompanied the November 20, 1769, edition of the Boston-Gazette. At the time, Dorr, a merchant and a member of the Sons of Liberty was doing far more than just advertising in the Boston-Gazette and other newspapers. He was also collecting, annotating, and indexing them as a means of constructing his own narrative of the imperial crisis. As the Massachusetts Historical Society notes in its online collection of those newspapers, Dorr sought “to form a political history.” (Visit The Annotated Newspapers of Harbottle Dorr, Jr. to explore the newspapers and indexes that Dorr arranged into four volumes.) “Dorr was well-versed in the heated politics of the day,” the Massachusetts Historical Society continues, “and he annotated many newspaper pages with his opinions, cross-references to articles elsewhere in his collection, and sometimes noted the identity of anonymous contributors to the newspapers.” His index filled 133 pages and included 4,969 terms.

Dorr’s index included advertisements, including this entry: “Advertisement of H.D., about discouraging the Importers &c.” That entry referenced an advertisement that Dorr placed in the Boston Evening-Post on September 3, 1770. Much more extensive than the brief notice that ran nearly nine months earlier in the Boston-Gazette, it offered political commentary that encouraged consumers to encourage production of goods in the colonies by choosing them over imported alternatives. “It is presumed,” Dorr declared, “preference will be given to NAILS manufactured here, (not only on patriotic Principles, and to discourage the PRESENT Importers,— but) as they really are better in Quality than most English Nails, being far tougher.”

In chronicling the advertising landscape in colonial America in 1769, I have frequently chosen advertisements that implicitly or explicitly commented on the Townshend Acts and the nonimportation agreements adopted in Boston and other cities and towns. I have argued that both advertisers and readers looked beyond news items and editorials when considering the politics of the period. In his annotations and index, Dorr confirms that he did indeed view advertisements for consumer goods as a political tool, not just a means of marketing his wares. His “political history” of the imperial crisis that culminated in the American Revolution included advertisers and the messages they communicated to colonial consumers.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 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.

Nov 20 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 2
Boston Evening-Post (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 3
Boston Evening-Post (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston-Gazette Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Boston-Gazette Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the Boston-Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 4
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 5
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 6
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 7
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

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Nov 20 - South-Carolina and American General Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (November 20, 1769).

 

November 19

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

Nov 19 - 11:16:1769 Advert 1 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

No Subscriber can purchase any NEGROES, or OTHER GOODS, or MERCHANDIZE WHATEVER.”

On July 22, 1769, colonists who attended “a GENERAL MEETING of the Inhabitants of Charles-Town, and of the Places adjacent … unanimously agreed” to an “ASSOCIATION” for the purpose of “encourage[ing] and promot[ing] the Use of NORTH-AMERICAN MANUFACTURES” as an alternative to imported goods. They did so in protest of “the abject and wretched condition to which the BRITISH COLONIES are reduced by several Acts of Parliament lately passed.” In particular, residents of Charleston had the Townshend Acts in mind, objecting to attempts to regulate trade and impose duties on imported paper, tea, glass, and other products. Like their counterparts in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, they adopted several resolutions that disrupted trade, seeking to use commerce as a toll to achieve political ends. In one resolution, they proclaimed that they would not “import into this Province any of the Manufacturers of GREAT-BRITAIN.” The Association and its resolutions received front page coverage in the August 3, 1769, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette.

Several months later, the “General Committee” charged with oversight of the resolutions published reminders in the South-Carolina Gazette, inserting their own notices alongside the multitude of advertisements that regularly appeared in that newspaper. Peter Timothy, the printer of the South-Carolina Gazette, showed his support from the start by making subscription papers available “to be signed” at his printing office. As various deadlines specified in the resolutions passed, he further aided the cause by giving one of the notices from the General Committee a privileged place in the November 16, 1769, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette. Under the headline “New Advertisements,” it was the first to appear in that issue, serving as a reminder and setting the tone for the other advertisements on the following three pages. The General Committee proclaimed that it gave “Notice that agreeable to the Resolutions entered into by the Inhabitants of this Province on the 22d of July last, no Subscriber can purchase any NEGROES, or OTHER GOODS, or MERCHANDIZE WHATEVER, of or belonging to any resident that has REFUSED or NEGLECTED to sign the said Resolutions within ONE MONTH after the Date thereof: Of which it is expected all Persons concerned, will take due Notice.” This particular measure put pressure on colonists who did not join the movement.

Nov 19 - 11:16:1769 Advert 2 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

The General Committee posted another notice on the following page. This time, Timothy positioned it in the middle of the page, surrounded by other advertisements. In it, the General Committee asserted “that the time is expired, during which the Subscribers, to the Resolutions of this Province, could purchase any Kind of European or East-India Goods, excepting COALS and SALT, from any Master of Vessel, transient Person, or Non-Subscriber: And that the time is also expired, for purchasing or selling NEGROES from any Place except such as may arrive directly from the Coast of Africa: And it is hoped, that every Person concerned, will strictly adhere to the Resolutions.” The final line was both reminder and threat. Merchants and shopkeepers as well as consumers needed to exercise care in their commercial transactions. Advertisers who promoted merchandise “just imported … from BRITAIN” (as William Simpson stated in his advertisement on the same page) faced a new commercial landscape in which they needed to demonstrate when they had ordered and acquired their goods or else face consequences for not abiding by the resolutions adopted by the Association. The inventory in shops and the goods colonists wore and used came under new scrutiny, but so did advertisements for those items since anything inserted in the public prints allowed for easy surveillance by concerned colonists interested in whether merchants and shopkeepers violated the nonimportation resolutions.

November 18

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

Nov 18 - 11:18:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (November 18, 1769).

“Containing, an accurate Ephemeris … Containing likewise, a beautiful Poem …”

In the fall of 1769, John Carter launched his marketing campaign for “THE NEW-ENGLAND ALMANACK, OR, Lady’s and Gentleman’s DIARY, For the Year of our Lord CHRIST 1770” with a full-page advertisement in the Providence Gazette. He likely posted a broadside around town as well. In subsequent weeks, Carter followed up the full-page advertisement with additional notices in the Providence Gazette; these included all of the same copy, but compressed to fit in a single column. Almanacs generated sufficient revenue for colonial printers to merit allocating considerable space in their newspapers to advertising them.

The contents of almanacs included reference items for information and other items for entertainment. Carter adopted a similar approach in his advertisements, publishing a poem for the enjoyment of prospective customers while also listing the contents of the almanac. Those contents included the usual astronomical data, such as the “Sun, Moon, and Seven Stars Rising and Setting; for every Day on the Year” and “Eclipses of the Luminaries,” as well as the tides. Other useful reference material included dates for the “Courts in the New-England Government,” “Times of the Stage-Coaches and Passage-Boats going and returning,” “a Table of Roads, enlarged and corrected.” Items intended for entertainment included “a beautiful Poem on Creation,” “a List of portentous Eclipses, with the remarkable Events that followed them,” and “a curious Essay on Comets, with some Remarks on the extraordinary one that appeared in August and September last.” Carter attempted to leverage potential ongoing interest in a recent event to spur sales of the almanac.

When it comes to retailing books, one modern marketing strategy harkens back to a method already in use by Carter and other printers in the eighteenth century. New technologies allow consumers to examine the table of contents online when considering whether to purchase a book, but publishing a table of contents as a means of bolstering interest in a book does not itself qualify as innovative. Modern marketers merely use new technologies to replicate a technique already in use for centuries. Certainly the strategy has been adopted more widely, given that the internet allows retailers more space than their counterparts could purchase in eighteenth-century newspapers, but the basic idea remains the same. Show consumers what a book contains and let the contents aid in selling the book. Carter and printers throughout the colonies regularly used that strategy for almanacs, books, and pamphlets in the eighteenth century.

November 17

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

Nov 17 - 11:17:1769 Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (November 17, 1769).

“TEA, that was imported before the Agreement of Non-importation.”

On November 17, 1769, Herman Brimmer inserted an advertisement for “Two or three Chests of BOHEA TEA, that was imported before the Agreement of Non-importation took place” in the Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter. Without enough space to include the advertisement in the standard four-page issue for that week, Richard Draper, the printer, placed Brimmer’s advertisement on the first page of a two-page extraordinary edition that accompanied the regular issue.

Brimmer made a point to advise prospective customers and the entire community that he sold tea that did not violate the resolutions adopted by “the Merchants and Traders in the Town of Boston” more than a year earlier on August 1, 1768.   It was just as well that he did so for his advertisement appeared immediately to the right of news about the nonimportation pact. Boston’s merchants and traders had recently updated their agreement on October 17, asserting that they “will not import any Kind of Goods or Merchandize from Great-Britain … until the Acts imposing Duties in America for raising a Revenue be totally repealed.” The third of the new resolutions explicitly mentioned tea: “we will not import … or purchase of any who may import from any other Colony in America, any Tea, Paper, Glass, or any other Goods commonly imported from Great Britain, until the Revenue Acts are totally repealed.” To give more teeth to these resolutions, those attending “a Meeting of the Merchants” just ten days earlier “VOTED, That the Names of all Such Persons as may hereafter import any Goods from Great-Britain contrary to the Agreement … be inserted in the News-Papers, and that they be held up to the Public as Persons counteracting the salutary Measures the Merchants are pursuing for the obtaining the Redress of their Grievances.” The merchants who devised the nonimportation agreement meant business!

Brimmer’s advertisement for “BOHEA TEA” did not merely promote a popular product. It was part of a larger public discourse about the meanings of goods, in this case not just the cultural meanings associated with drinking tea but also the political meanings of purchasing tea during a time of crisis. Other advertisers in the late 1760s underscored that they did not violate the nonimportation agreements, but their advertisements in colonial newspapers rarely appeared immediately next to copies of those agreements. That made neither advertisers nor readers any less cognizant of the fact that news items and advertisements operated in conversation with each other. Elsewhere in the same issue, William Greenleaf assured readers that he imported his merchandise “before the Non-importation Agreement took Place” and Henry Bass called on colonists to purchase grindstone manufactured in the colonies. They participated in the same conversation about using commerce as a means of resistance to the Townshend Acts and, in doing so, preserving “Liberties and Privileges” for themselves and posterity. That the nonimportation resolutions and Brimmer’s advertisement ran next to each other provides stark visual evidence of that conversation that took place in advertisements throughout the newspaper.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 17, 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.

Nov 17 - Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter Slavery 1
Massachusetts Gazette and Boston Weekly News-Letter (November 17, 1769).

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Nov 17 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (November 17, 1769).

November 16

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

Nov 16 - 11:16:1769 South-Carolina Gazette
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

“He will sell at the lowest Advance, and allow ten per Cent. discount for CASH.”

In the late 1760s James Courtonne operated a jewelry shop on Broad Street in Charleston. In an advertisement in the November 16, 1769, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette, he promoted a variety of his wares, including an “Assortment of Sterling PLATE and JEWELS, of the newest Fashions, most elegantly finished,” “Silver and double gilt Swords,” and “a great Variety of MARCASITE and COQUE-DE-PEARL Ear-Rings.” In addition to selling these imported items, the jeweler also offered several services, noting that the “continues to make and mend Diamond and mourning Rings, and Ear-Rings and Lockets enamelled in the neatest Manner.”

Not surprisingly, Courtonne advanced an appeal to fashion when describing his wares, yet that was not his only means of marketing his jewelry and the array of silver coffeepots, spoons, and spurs available at his shop. He also lowered his prices under circumstances, proclaiming that he would “allow ten per Cent. discount for CASH.” He would allow credit for these purchases, but he saw a definite advantage to dealing in cash. In turn, he sought to make paying in cash attractive to prospective customers as well.

Credit helped fuel the consumer revolution of the eighteenth century. Merchants and shopkeepers extended credit to consumers while also drawing on transatlantic networks of credit that connected them to merchants, producers, and suppliers in Britain and other places. This system depended on trust and the ability to make savvy decisions. It was risky. Merchants, shopkeepers, and others frequently placed newspaper advertisements calling on customers who made purchases on credit to settle their accounts or face legal action, sometimes in the same advertisements that they marketed their wares to other prospective customers.

Rather than make threats, Courtonne offered an incentive for prospective customers to pay in cash at the time of purchase. Everyone benefitted. Customers paid less. The jeweler received payment in a timely manner. In addition, Courtonne and those clients cultivated relationships with each other that did not have the specter of credit looming over them.

Slavery Advertisements Published November 16, 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.

Nov 16 - Pennsylvania Gazette Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 8
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 9
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 10
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 11
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 12
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 13
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 14
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 15
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 16
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 17
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Purdie and Dixon Slavery 18
Virginia Gazette [Purdie and Dixon] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 1
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 2
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 3
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 4
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 5
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 6
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

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Nov 16 - Virginia Gazette Rind Slavery 7
Virginia Gazette [Rind] (November 16, 1769).

November 15

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

Nov 15 - 11:15:1769 JPG Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 15, 1769).

“STROUDS, duffils, flannels, coarse broad cloths.”

Remediation matters. A few days ago I had an opportunity to visit an introductory digital humanities class offered by WISE, the Worcester Institute for Senior Education. During my presentation, I introduced students to the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project as well as some of the databases of digitized newspapers that make those projects possible, including Colonial Williamsburg’s Digital Library and Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers. We discussed some of the advantages and challenges of working with digitized sources.

Nov 15 - 11:15:1769 PDF Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (November 15, 1769).

We began by acknowledging that any digital surrogate is, by definition, a remediation of an original document … and different processes of remediation have different effects. Consider Rae and Somerville’s advertisement in the November 15, 1769, edition of the Georgia Gazette. Both of these images come from Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers, yet they are not identical. One aspect of that database that I really appreciate is the ability to download an entire issue of a newspaper and then print a copy that I can mark in any way I like. When I view the Georgia Gazette via the database, Rae and Somerville’s advertisement looks like the first image. The variations achieved via greyscale make it relatively easy to recognize smudged ink, printing that bled through from the other side of the page, and foxing (or discoloration) of the paper. Downloading a copy to make it even more portable, however, yields a black-and-white image that does not include the same variations. As a result, the second image is more difficult to read. It is possible to download greyscale images from the database, but it requires more steps. In addition, pages must be downloaded individually rather than acquiring an entire issue at once.

This means that even though digital surrogates make eighteenth-century newspapers much more accessible beyond research libraries and historical societies, readers have very different experiences working with the various versions of digitized documents. Remediation does not necessarily mean producing exact replications of original sources. Instead, technologies alter images, some more than others. Scholars and others who consult digitized sources must take into account the challenges involved in reading those documents and alter their methodologies accordingly, especially when given access to multiple remediations of the same sources.