Welcome, Guest Curator Jenna Smith!

Jenna SmithJenna Smith is a 2020 graduate of Assumption College. She double majored in History and Political Science. Jenna has taken a variety of history courses that cover different periods and parts of the world ranging from the ancient Middle East to the modern United States. Her true passion when researching and learning history is focused on the human element of every time period.  She finds deep satisfaction and gratitude when hearing people’s stories or reading about them. Jenna earned a spot on the Dean’s List at Assumption College every semester. She lived and studied in Rome, Italy, and Berlin, Germany, during her time as an undergraduate at Assumption.  Her passion for travel and connecting with different cultures was shown through her Study Abroad Ambassadorship. Jenna was also a History, Political Science, and Writing tutor at the Academic Support Center on campus. During her last semester at the school, she also participated in the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Model Senate Project where students recreated significant Senate debates that have occurred throughout the history of the United States. Jenna served as guest curator for the Slavery Adverts 250 Project during the Fall 2019 semester as part of her senior capstone seminar.  She composed tweets for advertisements republished by the project during the fall and conducted the research and prepared the entries for six weeks in May and June 2020. The Assumption College History department presented her the Achievement in Public History award in 2020.

Welcome, guest curator Jenna Smith!

May 16

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

May 16 - 5:16:1770 Georgia Gazette
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

“WILLIAMS and MACKAY’s Copartnership will expire in June next.”

It would have been nearly impossible for readers of the Georgia Gazette not to know that “WILLIAMS AND MACKAY’s Copartnership will expire” in June 1770.  The partners ran an advertisement to that effect in every issue for several months.  They commenced their efforts to notify “all indebted to that concern” to settle accounts in the January 3 edition of the Georgia Gazette.  That advertisement, the first item on the first page, bore a dateline at its conclusion: “Augusta, 1st January, 1770.”  The following week they published a slightly revised version, adding “Pack Horses, Indian Debts” to the list of items they continued to sell at “Their Trading House in Augusta.”  Doing so required resetting the type for the second half of the advertisement, but the compositor left the first half intact.

That advertisement ran for thirteen weeks before Williams and Mackay updated it again.  (I am assuming that it appeared in the March 14 edition.  The fourth page, usually reserved for advertisements in the Georgia Gazette, is missing from the digitized copy available via America’s Historical Newspapers).  Throughout that time, that advertisement advised that they sought to sell the trading house itself, “which may be entered upon the first of April next.”  Apparently, they did not find any purchasers by that time.  On April 11, they further revised the copy to state that the trading house “may be entered upon immediately.”  This required resetting type in the second half of the advertisement once again.  At that time, the dateline also disappeared from the advertisement.

For at least twenty consecutive weeks one iteration or another of Williams and Mackay’s advertisement ran in the Georgia Gazette.  It may have continued past the May 16 edition, but those issues have not survived.  America’s Historical Newspapers includes the first two pages of the May 23 edition, but by that time this advertisement had migrated to the last two.  That’s the end of both known copies of the Georgia Gazette and digitized editions that make them more accessible.  Inserting their advertisement that many times would have been a significant investment for Williams and Mackay.  For James Johnston, the printer, this advertising campaign yielded revenues that supported the dissemination of the news that appeared elsewhere in the Georgia Gazette.  Regular readers likely became accustomed to seeing the advertisement over the course of nearly half a year.  By inserting it so often, Williams and Mackay increased the chances that even those who read the Georgia Gazette only sporadically would see their notice.

Slavery Advertisements Published May 16, 1770

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.

May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

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May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

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May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

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May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

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May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

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May 16 1770 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (May 16, 1770).

May 15

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

May 15 - 5:15:1770 Essex Gazette
Essex Gazette (May 15, 1770).

“Said HILLER has to sell, a Variety of Watch Chains, Strings, Keyes, Seals.”

When Joseph Hiller, a clock- and watchmaker, set up shop in a new location, he inserted an advertisement in the Essex Gazette to alert “the Public and his Customers in general, and those of them in the County of ESSEX in particular.”  Hiller had not only moved to a new location, he also moved to a new town.  He explained that he formerly operated a shop on King Street in Boston, but now customers could find him at “a Shop opposite the Court-House, on the Exchange, in SALEM.”  He hoped to retain those customers that he could, especially those who resided close to his new location, but he also aimed to attract new clients in Salem and its environs who may not have been previously inclined to seek out his services in Boston but would now consider his shop a viable option given its proximity.

To that end, he proclaimed that he would “execute all Sorts of CLOCK and WATCH WORK with such Accuracy, Fidelity and Dispatch, as to merit the Approbation of his Employers.”  Previous customers were already familiar with Hiller’s skill and service, so that portion of the advertisement served as an introduction to those who had not previously hired him.  He deployed appeals that artisans commonly incorporated into their advertisements, “Accuracy” testifying to the quality of his work and “Fidelity and Dispatch” applying to the customer service he provided.  While Hiller’s advertisement was not particularly innovative, it did demonstrate that he was competent, at least in how he represented his business in print.  Prospective clients could test those claims for themselves.

In an additional effort to entice customers into his new shop, Hiller appended a nota bene advising that he did more than make and repair clocks and watches.  He also carried a variety of accessories associated with his business: “Watch Chains, Strings, Keys, Seals.”  Selling these items supplemented the revenues that Hiller earned from his primary occupation; purchasing them allowed consumers to express their own tastes in embellishing their clocks and watches.  That Hiller made them available at all may have aroused the curiosity of prospective customers, encouraging them to visit his new shop to examine the accessories even if they did not wish to purchase a clock or watch or arrange for repairs.  As a newcomer in Salem, Hiller offered various reasons for consumers to make a call at his shop.

Slavery Advertisements Published May 15, 1770

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.

May 15 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (May 15, 1770).

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May 15 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (May 15, 1770).

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May 15 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (May 15, 1770).

May 14

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

May 14 - 5:14:1770 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

“She has had the honour of being employed by several ladies in this city.”

Mary Morcomb did not indicate how recently she had arrived in New York in her advertisement, but it was recently enough that she described herself as a “Mantua-Maker, from London.”  After migrating to the colonies, she hoped to establish a new clientele.  To that end, she informed readers of the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury that she made “all sorts of negligees, Brunswick dresses, gowns, and every other sort of lady’s apparel.”  In addition, she extended her skills working with textiles to “cover[ing] UMBRELLOES in the neatest and most fashionable manner.”  Invoking her London origins testified to her access to the latest styles and taste, reassuring prospective customers that she did indeed produce both garments and umbrellas, a new and exotic accessory in the early 1770s, in the “most fashionable manner.”

As a newcomer who could not depend on a reputation established through interacting with clients and acquaintances over time, Morcomb instead attempted to accelerate the process.  She claimed that she already “had the honour of being employed by several ladies in this city.”  Those ladies, Morcomb reported, were satisfied with the garments she made for them and had “declared their approbation of her work.”  This was a secondhand testimonial, delivered by the provider of the goods and services, yet Morcomb hoped it would be sufficient to garner “encouragement from the ladies, in her business.”  She concluded by pledging that if prospective clients put their trust in her that they “May depend upon having their work done with all possible care and dispatch.”

In her effort to attract new customers, Morcomb deployed strategies often used by artisans, especially those in the garment trades, who only recently arrived in the colonies.  Many emphasized their connections to cosmopolitan cities where they had access to the latest fashions and then suggested that this already translated to serving select clients in their new location.  Although unfamiliar to many residents in their communities, Morcomb and other artisans attempted to incite demand by asserting that their services were already in demand.  Prospective customers should be eager to hire them, they proposed, because they had already successfully demonstrated their proficiency at their trades.

Slavery Advertisements Published May 14, 1770

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.

May 14 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 2
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Slavery 3
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 2
New-York Gazette or Weekly Post-Boy (May 14, 1770).

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May 14 1770 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (May 14, 1770).

May 13

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

May 13 - 5:10:1770 Boston Chronicle
Boston Chronicle (May 10, 1770).

“WATT’S PSALMS … with a PREFACE of twenty four pages.”

John Mein and John Fleeming, printers of the Boston Chronicle, also printed and sold “WATT’S PSALMS WITH HIS HYMNS AND SPIRITUAL SONGS.”  Given the popularity of Isaac Watt’s Psalms, American printers produced several editions in the eighteenth century and booksellers imported others from London.  To incite demand for their edition, Mein and Fleeming sought to distinguish it from others.

They began by supplementing the title of the book with additional notes.  In writing the copy for advertisements for books, printers and booksellers often simply listed the title and extensive subtitle that doubled as a table of contents.  That preview gave prospective customers a glimpse of what they would encounter when they purchased and read books themselves.  In this case, however, Mein and Fleeming further embellished the subtitle of Watt’s Psalms: “IMITATED in the language of the NEW-TESTAMENT, and applied to the Christian state and worship, with a PREFACE of twenty four pages, being a Discourse on the right way of fitting the PSALMS of DAVID for Christian Worship.”  The underlined portion identifies deviations from the title page, which instead reads: “with the preface, or an enquiry in to the right way.”  Mein and Fleeming then described the contents of those twenty-four pages in greater detail before giving the same treatment to the “NOTES at the end of the PSALMS.”

The printers had good reason to be so particular.  They concluded their advertisement by proclaiming, “This is the only Edition of Dr. WATTS’s PSALMS and HYMNS printed in AMERICA, with the large Preface and Notes.”  They sought to underscore the value of their edition compared to others produced by local printers, drawing attention to the twenty-four pages in the preface as well as the notes and “proper directions for SINGING” that followed the hymns.  Although infamous loyalists, they appropriated the “Buy American” strategy deployed by supporters of the patriot cause in service of selling their edition of Watts’s Psalms.

May 12

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

May 12 - 5:12:1770 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (May 12, 1770).

“B L A N K S.”

John Carter, printer of the Providence Gazette, regularly inserted an advertisement for printed blanks into his own newspaper in 1770, using one element of his business to promote another.  Even when he did not run his notice for “BLANKS,” each edition concluded with a colophon that listed more than just Carter’s name and the place of publication.  It also advised readers that “all Manner of PRINTING-WORK is performed on reasonable Terms, with Fidelity and Expedition” at Carter’s printing office at “the Sign of Shakespeare’s Head” in Providence.  The advertisement for “BLANKS” often supplemented the perpetual advertisement for job printing at the bottom of the final page of the Providence Gazette.

Carter catered to a variety of prospective customers, producing blanks (or forms) for “Apprentices Indentures,” “Bills of Lading,” “Bonds of several sorts,” and “Long and short Powers of Attorney,” to name just a few.  He also carried “various Kinds of Blanks for the colony of CONNECTICUT” for anyone tending to legal or commercial matters in the neighboring colony.

This advertisement moved around within the pages of the Providence Gazette.  Eighteenth-century printers often saved advertisements for their own goods and services for the bottom of columns, bringing those columns to the desired length after first inserting news and paid notices submitted by their customers.  Perhaps to increase the likelihood that readers would take note of it, Carter moved his advertisement around the page from week to week.  In the May 12, 1770, edition it occupied a privileged place as the first advertisement.  It also appeared in the center of the page, drawing the eye due to the amount of white space created by listing only one item per line.  Both the news and the other advertisements on the page consisted of dense paragraphs with little variation of font sizes.  Carter’s advertisement with its headline, “B L A N K S” in the largest font on the page, and ample white space positioned at the center of the page would have been nearly impossible for readers of the Providence Gazette to overlook.

May 11

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

May 11 - 5:11:1770 South-Carolina and American General Gazette
South-Carolina and American General Gazette (May 11, 1770).

“May be had … till Capt. Schermerhorn’s Sloop sails.”

The colophon for the South-Carolina and American General Gazette indicated that it was published by Robert Wells “at the Old Printing-House, Great Stationary and Book Shop.”  Like many other eighteenth-century printers, Wells simultaneously operated several affiliated enterprises from his printing office.  An advertisement in the May 11, 1770, edition of his newspaper alerted prospective customers to an item for sale among the books and stationery at his shop, “A PLAN of the CITY of NEW-YORK by Capt. Ratzer, Engineer.”

The advertisement declared that this map was “most elegantly engraved,” but that was not the only marketing strategy deployed to incite demand among consumers.  The advertisement also proclaimed that the map was available for a limited time only.  Customers could acquire their own copies for one dollar each “till Capt. Schermerhorn’s Sloop sails, in which will be returned all the Copies then unsold.”  None would be held in reserve at the printing office to sell in the future.  Anyone potentially interested in this map, the advertisement warned, needed to visit Wells’s shop to examine the map and make a decision about purchasing it as soon as possible or else they would miss the opportunity to obtain it easily from a local bookseller.

May 11 - 10:15:1770 New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (October 15, 1770).

In its notes on Plan of the City of New York, in North America: Surveyed in the Years 1766 & 1767, the Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library cites two states of the map, the first “undated but about 1770” and the second from 1776.  Furthermore, the “attribution of 1770 for the first state of the map is based on a ‘New-York Gazette’ advertisement for the map in October 1770,” according to Margaret Beck Pritchard and Henry G. Taliaferro.  Although available for purchase in two of the largest urban ports in the colonies in 1770, there are “only two known examples of the map in the first state” today.  The advertisements aid historians in telling a more complete story of the production and distribution of the Plan of the City of New York in the late colonial era.