What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“LOST … A GREEN SILK UMBRELLA.”
An advertisement offering a reward for the return of a lost “GREEN SILK UMBRELLA” appeared in the April 18, 1770, edition of the Georgia Gazette. It ran at the bottom of the first column of the second page. Unfortunately, a portion of the advertisement is missing from the digital image available via Readex’s America’s Historical Newspapers database.
Yet consulting another digital resource, Clarence: Newspaper Holdings of the American Antiquarian Society, makes clear that Readex faithfully captured an image of the April 18 edition in its extant status in the archive. According to the American Antiquarian Society, “Clarence is named in honor of Clarence S. Brigham (1877-1963), a man pivotal in the building of the AAS newspaper collection. Brigham began his service to AAS in 1980 as its librarian and retired in 1959 as its director.” Brigham is well known among scholars of early American print culture for his monumental History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (1947).
The Clarence database appropriately provides detailed information about the newspapers in the collections at AAS. It does not, however, provide digital images. The AAS and Readex partnered to create America’s Historical Newspapers. Although Readex also worked with other research libraries to produce its database, the calendars in Clarence and America’s Historical Newspapers indicate that the digital images in the latter come from original sources at the AAS. Although Brigham’s bibliography reports that the Georgia Gazette continued publication until 1776, the AAS has issues only through May 23, 1770. Compare the calendar from Clarence to the calendar from America’s Historical Newspapers. They match, indicating that the images of the Georgia Gazette in Readex’s database did indeed come from the originals in the collections at the AAS. For further confirmation, note the status of the issues at the AAS. Those denoted with a blue box are “whole” according to the legend, while those denoted with a red box are “damaged.” All of the digital images missing the bottom of the page in America’s Historical Newspapers correspond to damaged newspapers at the AAS.
Close examination of the digital images on their own suggest that they are accurate renderings of the originals in the archive, but working back and forth between the two digital resources confirms that is the case and tells a more complete story of the sources available to historians and other scholars.