April 24

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

Apr 24 - 4:24:1770 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 24, 1770).

“A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”

In advance of an auction of a “A Collection of BOOKS,” Nicholas Langford placed an advertisement in the April 24, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal.  He provided a preview of some of the items for sale, including “Johnson’s Dictionary” in two volumes and thirty-two volumes of the London Magazinefrom the Beginning.”  Langford could have inserted a more extensive account of the “Collection of “BOOKS.”  Instead, he declared that “A Printed Catalogue will be timely delivered.”  He used his newspaper advertisement to promote another form of marketing ephemera that prospective customers could consult and find useful prior to and during the auction.

Indeed, book catalogs and auction catalogs (and catalogs for book auctions) were ephemeral.  Little or no evidence exists concerning the production and distribution of many catalogs except for mentions of them in newspaper advertisements.  Some may never have existed except in those advertisements; bibliographers and historians of print culture suspect that advertisers like Langford sometimes promised catalogs that never went to press.  While some catalogs mentioned in newspaper notices may very well have turned out to be bibliographic ghosts, enough eighteenth-century catalogs have survived to demonstrate that medium did circulate in early America.

It would not have served Langford well to allude to a catalog that would not be “timely delivered” or even delivered at all.  As an entrepreneur seeking to attract as many bidders to his auction as possible, it served his interests to distribute the catalog.  In addition, it would have damaged his reputation if prospective buyers sent for a catalog and he had to confess that he had not managed to follow through on the intention that he had announced to the public in a newspaper advertisement.  Even if something prevented Langford or others from publishing some of the catalogs mentioned in newspaper advertisements, that they were referenced at all suggests that they were a form of marketing media that colonists expected to encounter.

Slavery Advertisements Published January 23, 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.

Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 6
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 7
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 8
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 9
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 10
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 11
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 12
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

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Jan 23 1770 - South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Slavery 13
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (January 23, 1770).

Slavery Advertisements Published January 12, 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.

Jan 12 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 1
New-London Gazette (January 12, 1770).

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Jan 12 1770 - New-London Gazette Slavery 2
New-London Gazette (January 12, 1770).

December 23

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

Dec 23 - 12:23:1769 Providence Gazette
Providence Gazette (December 23, 1769).

“His Store in East-Greenwich.”

On December 23, 1769, Richard Matthewson published a newspaper advertisement promoting the “Neat Assortment of English and West-India Goods” he sold at his store near the courthouse in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. On the same day, James Mitchell Varnum also published a newspaper advertisement, that one informing the public that he “hath lately opened an Office … in the Character of Attorney at Law” in the town of East Greenwich. Both advertisements ran in the Providence Gazette. They demonstrate the widespread circulation of colonial newspapers.

For Matthewson and Varnum, the Providence Gazette, printed twenty miles distant from East Greenwich, was their local newspaper. In 1769, only two newspapers were printed in Rhode Island, the Newport Mercury by Solomon Southwick and the Providence Gazette by John Carter. Each served as clearinghouses for advertisements from beyond the busy ports where the printing offices were located. Matthewson expected that customers in East Greenwich and the surrounding villages would read the Providence Gazette and encounter his notice. Otherwise he would not have placed it. Similarly, Varnum anticipated that investing in an advertisement in the Providence Gazette would generate clients for his law office.

An explosion of printing occurred after the American Revolution. Printers established newspapers in smaller towns throughout the new United States in the final decades of the eighteenth century and even more as the nineteenth century progressed. In the period before the American Revolution, however, colonists had access to far fewer newspapers. Several newspapers emanated from the largest port cities, but they often served an entire colony or an even larger region. Some colonies had only one newspaper, such as the Georgia Gazette published in Savannah and the New-Hampshire Gazette published in Portsmouth. Their mastheads bore the name of the colony rather than the town where they were published. Only in New England were some newspapers named for cities and towns, suggesting a greater concentration of print in that region. (Newspaper published in New York served the entire colony, not just the bustling port.) Even when named for a town, however, newspapers like the Providence Gazette circulated throughout an entire colony and beyond. That made the Providence Gazette the local newspaper and appropriate place to advertise for Matthewson, Varnum, and others who lived in other parts of the colony.

Slavery Advertisements Published August 9, 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.

Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 1
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 2
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 3
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 4
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 5
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 6
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 7
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

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Aug 9 - Georgia Gazette Slavery 8
Georgia Gazette (August 9, 1769).

Slavery Advertisements Published April 10, 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.

Bryant Halpin is serving as guest curator for the week of April 7-13, 2019.  He compiled these advertisements that appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Supplement to the Boston Evening-Post (April 10, 1769).

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Boston-Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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Connecticut Courant (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (April 10, 1769).

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New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (April 10, 1769).

Slavery Advertisements Published February 27, 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.

Chloe Amour is serving as guest curator for the week of February 24 to March 2, 2019.  She compiled these advertisements that appeared in colonial American newspapers 250 years ago today.

Boston Evening-Post (February 27, 1769).

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Boston Evening-Post (February 27, 1769).

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Connecticut Courant (February 27, 1769).

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Connecticut Courant (February 27, 1769).

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Newport Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (February 27, 1769).

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New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Post-Boy (February 27, 1769).

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Pennsylvania Chronicle (February 27, 1769).

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Pennsylvania Chronicle (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

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South-Carolina and American General Gazette (February 27, 1769).

January 16

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

New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (January 16, 1769).

“As she is a Stranger, will make it her constant Study to give intire Satisfaction.”

When milliner Margaret Wills migrated from Dublin to New York she placed an advertisement in the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury to announce that she now received customers “in the Broadway, Next Door to Richard Nicol’s, Esq.” She briefly described the services she offered, noting that she made “all Sorts of Caps, Hats, Bonnets, Cloaks, and all other Articles in the Millinary Way.” She incorporated some of the most common appeals made by milliners and others who advertised consumer goods and services in eighteenth-century America: price and fashion. She stated that she charged “the lowest Prices” and that her hats and garments represented “the newest and most elegant Fashion.” In addition, she provided instruction to “young Ladies” interested in learning a “great Variety of Works” related to her trade.

Wills devoted half of her advertisement, however, to addressing her status as a newcomer in the busy port. Unlike many of her competitors who had served local residents for years and cultivated relationships, she was unfamiliar to colonists who perused her advertisement. She acknowledged that she was “a Stranger” in the city, but strove to turn that to her advantage. To build her clientele, she pledged “to make it her constant Study to give intire Satisfaction to those who please to honor her with their Commands.” In so doing, she advanced customer service as a cornerstone of her business. Its allure had the potential to attract prospective clients for an initial visit; following through on this vow could cement relationships between new customers and the milliner “Just arrived from DUBLIN.” It might even lead to word-of-mouth recommendations, but Wills determined that she needed to start with a notice in the public prints to enhance her visibility before she could rely on any satisfied customers circulating any sort of buzz. Her advertisement operated as a letter of introduction to the entire community.

Slavery Advertisements Published December 9, 1768

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.

During the week of December 9-15, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Nicholas Sears (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

New-London Gazette (December 9, 1768).

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New-London Gazette (December 9, 1768).

Slavery Advertisements Published November 7, 1768

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.

During the week of November 4-10, 2018, the Slavery Adverts 250 Project is guest curated by Patrick Keane (2019), a History major at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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

Nov 7 - Boston Evening-Post Slavery 1
Boston Evening-Post (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 1
Boston-Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 2
Boston-Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Boston-Gazette Slavery 3
Boston-Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Slavery 1
New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 1
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 2
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - New-York Gazette Weekly Mercury Supplement Slavery 3
Supplement to the New-York Gazette and Weekly Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - New-York Gazette Weekly Post-Boy Slavery 1
New-York Gazette: Or, the Weekly Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Newport Mercury Slavery 1
Newport Mercury (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 1
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - Pennsylvania Chronicle Slavery 2
Pennsylvania Chronicle (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 1
South-Carolina Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 2
South-Carolina Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 3
South-Carolina Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 4
South-Carolina Gazette (November 7, 1768).

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Nov 7 - South-Carolina Gazette Slavery 5
South-Carolina Gazette (November 7, 1768).