Interview with Guest Curator Maia Campbell

Maia Campbell has completed her second and final week as guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project.  As we say farewell to her, let’s take a few moments to find out more about her  behind-the-scenes contributions to this project.

Adverts 250: This was your second week as guest curator. How did it compare to the first time? Did you make any changes to your research or writing process based on what you learned the first time?

Maia Campbell: My second week as guest curator has proved more challenging than the first time. I had a harder time finding advertisements that I thought would be interesting to audiences, as well as ones that I would be able to make intelligent remarks about. I spent much time looking through the Early American Newspapers database, often changing my mind about advertisements that I did not think I could execute well. This time around I also did more research for the project. The advertisements I chose for the colonial period went beyond any knowledge that I had, and thus I turned to other websites. To give an example, for Monday’s advertisement for the sale of Indian corn, I initially thought this indicated that Native Americans still maintained a relationship with the English colonists. However, with the guidance of Professor Keyes, I learned through research that Indian corn was the type of corn. I was still able to make a connection to Native Americans by referring to a trade of ideas tracing back to the early days of the colonies.

Adverts 250: What is the most important or most interesting thing that you learned about early American history throughout the process of working on this project?

Maia Campbell: I learned much about early American values through working on the Adverts 250 Project. I learned about colonial America’s position in the world regarding industry, as the colonists were still largely farmers. At the same time, they valued their freedoms as well. The advertisement for Wednesday demonstrates how the colonists valued their freedom of the press and ability to discuss their current political conditions. In a world that was changing around them industrially, the American colonies were beginning to move forward in political ideology.

Adverts 250: What is the most important thing you learned about “doing history” as a result of working on this project?

Maia Campbell: This time around, the most important thing I learned about “doing history” is that there needs to be solid research backing everything in public history. I say this because as I was writing about the advertisements I selected this time, I had to do more research than I had planned. I must admit that I tried to do my commentaries for the advertisements all at once, and I was not the most thorough. However, when doing my revisions I engaged in more research than I had previously. Although I have some knowledge of colonial America, I think it best to have research to back up my observations rather than just my memory. Truly research is a more reliable source, and it is what helps to give context and background to the advertisements.

Adverts 250: What is your favorite advertisement from your two weeks as guest curator? Why?

Maia Campbell: I think my favorite advertisement over all was the clay candlestick advertisement from Tuesday of this week. I found the concept of clay candles so fascinating, and yet I could not find any visual evidence of it. Therefore, I concluded that the advertisement was referring to the candlestick holders. However, what I liked about this advertisement most was the community conversation it sparked, first as a comment underneath Tuesday’s post, then on the Facebook page of the Royall House and Slave Quarters. The people engaged in the dialogue all made educated and interesting responses, and it was interesting to have had a role in starting it.

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Thank you, Maia.  You’ve made some wonderful and thought-provoking contributions to the Adverts 250 Project during your time as guest curator.  Maia just learned that she has been accepted to participate in SOPHIA (Sophomore Initiative at Assumption), a program designed to help students explore and discern their vocations.  The development of our class, Vocations in Public History, was made possible by a grant from SOPHIA.

April 9

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 9 - 4:7:1766 New-York Mercury
New-York Mercury (April 7, 1766).

“WILLIAM ADAMS, TUTOR to the Academy at COLDINGHAM, INFORMS the Gentlemen of the City, who have their sons there, that they are well.”

In 1766, an age of a growing importance on education, especially for men, was beginning to dawn in the American colonies. In the past throughout the Western world, tutoring services were offered mainly to nobility. During colonial times, this was also mostly the case, though different colonies had different experiences. In general, children of the “lower sorts” could not afford to get an education, and they also lacked opportunity (especially outside the New England colonies).

This tutor, William Adams, did not specify the social class of the boys he desired to tutor. The fact that this advertisement was published in a newspaper indicates progress in the right direction. Yet though Adams’ advertisement moves in the direction of educational opportunity for many, the academy he was advertising was a boarding school. Though the advertisement indicated that “any one having a mind to enter their sons” had a chance to speak with the tutor, the real opportunity remained for those with sufficient money for the boarding costs.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Maia has identified some of the recurrent themes that appeared in advertisements for educational opportunities in the decade prior to the Revolution. Instructors advertising their classes frequently placed notices in newspapers. Both the men and women who ran boarding schools and Latin academies and the tutors and instructors who offered special subjects, such as foreign languages, dancing, or fencing, emphasized that they conducted their lessons in an atmosphere of morality and politeness and promoted their services by suggesting that refined individuals possessed the skills that they offered to teach. In so doing, they presented potential students and their parents with a strategy for asserting their own social status by acquiring skills and pursuing activities associated with metropolitan elites.

These advertisements preserved an aura of hierarchy in educational pursuits by associating them with elite gentility, but they opened up learning opportunities to prospective students who did not necessarily come from elite backgrounds. They sold – or attempted to sell – gentility to a broad reading public. Thus, they highlighted a tension between popularizing goods and services in order to sell them and the continued association of codes of gentility with elite social standing.

As Maia noted, we can see this tension in today’s advertisement. Adams posted this notice for two purposes. First, he let the “Gentlemen of the City, who have their Sons there” at the academy know that his charges were doing well and would be visiting the New York soon. In addition, he used this notice to recruit additional students. He addressed “Any one having a mind to enter their Sons,” suggesting that this was an opportunity open to all readers. In an era of significant social mobility, some middling readers may have seized such an opportunity to further enhance their status and their family’s prospects for the future. The tutor, for his part, appeared content to enroll middling as well as elite youths.

April 8

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 8 - 4:7:1766 Newport Mercury
Newport Mercury (April 7, 1766).

“A FARM in Bristol, containing about 140 Acres of good Land.”

I find interesting the way in which the American colonies and European countries sometimes diverged economically in the eighteenth century. In my Western Civilization course, we have discussed the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution. In Great Britain, where the revolution started, James Hargreaves invented the spinning jenny in 1764, revolutionizing the speed at which cotton could be spun. In that same decade Richard Arkwright introduced his water frame, which harnessed waterpower, resulting in water-powered factories that could produce mass amounts of textiles. People began to flock to the cities and abandon their farmlands. As farming became more technological and less profitable, jobs in the cities, especially in factories, opened up.

However, in America, such was not the case – yet. Farms and farmland were still highly valuable in the British colonies. Even when the Industrial Revolution reached America, the government would still encourage people to go west and start their own farms. The advertised farm has everything that a farmer could need to produce for the market and provide for his family.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Urban areas in America increasingly grew during the eighteenth century. Existing cities – Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston – expanded, while others – such as Baltimore – emerged as population centers and hubs of commerce in their own right. Still, as Maia explains, the Industrial Revolution did not arrive in North America as quickly as it did in Europe. Factories that employed new technologies discussed popped up in New England by the end of the century, but they were not part of the colonial landscape in the 1760s.

That does not mean that rural areas remained untouched. Note the many ways in which this advertisement demonstrates that colonists shaped the land on which they lived and worked. In addition to the town of Bristol, an “East Road” cut through the landscape. The farm for sale included a “House, Barn, and Cribb, &c.” These buildings certainly modified the landscape. The property had been “Fenced with about 1200 Rods of Stone Wall,” a significant change to the landscape. How much of the land devoted to “Meadow, Pasture, and Tillage” existed in such a state before colonists arrived? How much of it had been cleared by colonists?

Sometimes we assume that major changes to the environment occurred only in recent times, only after the United States fully engaged in the Industrial Revolution. This real estate advertisement, however, lists a variety of ways in which colonists reshaped the landscape to suit their own needs. Those who lived in rural areas did not reside in an undisturbed natural world. Instead, they engaged in a process of simultaneously adapting to the land and adapting the land as they desired.

April 7

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 7 - 4:7:1766 Boston-Gazette
Boston-Gazette (April 7, 1766).

“A Quantity of choice Jamaica FISH to be Sold.”

Trade was, of course, a crucial part of colonial life. Since the colonists could not grow and produce everything they needed, the colonies traded the products they did make for items produced elsewhere, such and sugar, tea, and coffee. Most of their trade was with Britain and British colonies.

This is where Jamaica comes in. It is peculiar to me that Boston would import fish from Jamaica, when New England is known for its seafood as well. However, I think this import has much to do with trade with England. As Jamaica was an English colony, Britain regulated its imports and exports, as it did with the American colonies. Trade between the colonies was not uncommon. Also, even though New England was known for its seafood, the exotic appeal of “Jamaica FISH” could have been strong as well. It would have been a change to receive fish from elsewhere within the British Empire instead of having fish from New England all the time.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Today’s advertisement is very brief compared to the one Maia selected for yesterday. In general, it is shorter than most of the other advertisements in the same issue of the Boston-Gazette. It also appeared as nearly the last item in that issue. Only a two-line advertisements for a “Wet Nurse with a good Breast of Milk” and the colophon (“Boston, Printed by EDES & GILL, in Queen-Street. 1766.”) followed Samuel Hughes’s notice that he sold “A Quantity of choice Jamaica FISH.”

In length and placement, this advertisement likely did not garner the same attention as yesterday’s advertisement for a political pamphlet that appeared at the top of the first page alongside political news. Still, the advertiser and the printer included some features intended to attract the attention of potential customers, making it more than just a bland commercial notice.

Samuel Hughes made an appeal to quality when he described the fish as “choice.” Throughout the eighteenth century, appeals to price and quality were among those most frequently deployed by advertisers. The printers varied the size and style of the font, putting “Jamaica” and “Samuel Hughes” in italics and capitalizing “FISH.” Ornamental type separated this advertisement from those that appeared above and below.

Apr 7 - Final Adverts
Final items that appeared in this issue of the Boston-Gazette (April 7, 1766).

By today’s standards, this advertisement may not appear especially engaging. It lacks the proverbial bells and whistles that we associate with marketing in the modern world. Yet it helps to demonstrate the evolution of advertising. Compare it to the advertisements that appeared in the Boston News-Letter fifty years earlier. Today’s advertisement may look rather stark to our eyes, but it showed evidence of innovation in the eighteenth century.

Apr 7 - Adverts 4:2:1716 Boston News-Letter
The entire advertising section of an issue of the Boston News-Letter (April 2, 1716).

April 6

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 6 - 4:3:1766 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 3, 1766).

“Just published, and to be sold … THE IMPORTANCE of the Colonies of NORTH-AMERICA, and the INTEREST of GREAT-BRITAIN, with Regard.”

This advertisement caught my eye because it is the most direct reference to the events leading up to the Revolutionary War that I have encountered. The advertisement addresses the tensions that had been present after the French and Indian War, which really damaged the colonists’ perception of Britain as their mother country. This advertisement mentions explicitly that the colonies and Great Britain were having a strained relationship.

The “just published” work included remarks on the widely despised Stamp Act, which would have been sure to draw in many readers. This also depended on public literacy. Newspapers were a part of it, but there were also smaller works, such as the pamphlets advertised here, published for ordinary colonists to read. Although the most famous, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, would not be published for another decade, these publications and others were meant to reach the minds of many Americans, giving them much to think about in regards to their relationship to Britain.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Like several of the other guest curators from my Public History class, Maia has been keeping her eyes open for advertisements that illuminate the political history of the period, especially the role of the Stamp Act in the unfolding imperial crisis. It would have been difficult to miss this advertisement. The printer inserted it at the top of the first column on the first page, immediately below the masthead, making it the first item – either news or commercial notice – that a subscriber would have read.

Apr 6 - First Page of Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 3, 1766).

Note how the layout of this page provides further context and suggests how the printer likely intended readers to interact with this advertisement. It appeared immediately to the left of a list of anti-Stamp Act resolutions from the Committee of Correspondence in Cecil County, Maryland. Continuing to scan across the top of the page, readers encountered a list of resolutions passed at a recent “Meeting of the SONS OF LIBERTY of the Township of Piscataway, in the County of Middlesex, and Province of East New-Jersey.”

Of all the possible news items and advertisements that could have appeared at the top of the first column, it hardly seems like a coincidence that an advertisement for anti-Stamp Act pamphlets appeared there. The printer stoked potential customers’ outrage with the resolutions from the Committee of Correspondence and the Sons of Liberty, increasing the chances they would be interested in purchasing pamphlets about colonists’ rights and the appropriate responses to the abuses they were suffering at the hands of a Parliament that overstepped its authority. The printer yoked politics and commerce, each in the service of the other.

The story becomes more interesting when we realize that David Hall, who advertised the pamphlets, was also the printer and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette! He used his newspaper to advance political views. At the same time, he looked to make a profit from the controversy that incited the interest that made it possible to sell these pamphlets. In designing the first page of this issue of the Pennsylvania Gazette, David Hall revealed himself to be a savvy printer and entrepreneur.

April 5

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 5 - 4:3:1766 Massachusetts Gazette
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (April 3, 1766).

“He is now preparing a large Quantity of Clay Candlesticks.”

Although electricity was being experimented with during the colonial period (most famously by Benjamin Franklin), the light bulb itself would not arrive on the scene until around a century later. People during the colonial period used candles as a source of light when going about daily activities, especially after dark.

As candles are normally made of wax, I was intrigued by the part in this advertisement about “Clay Candlesticks.” Having never heard of something of the sort, I decided to try to find something about what these candlesticks would have looked like. However, I found no evidence that the candles themselves were made of clay instead of wax. Rather, it seems that the clay part may have referred to the candlestick holder.

This advertisement speaks to the time gap between us and the colonial period. Today, we take electricity for granted and forget our roots. A candle, no less a simple candlestick holder, rarely has much value to us. It interested me how technology has changed so much that we have lost appreciation for such an object as this that was once essential in colonists’ lives.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

Maia and I struggled with this advertisement. She could very well be correct that “Clay Candlesticks” referred to candlestick holders. Neither of us turned up any information that definitively confirmed candles themselves were sometimes made of clay in the colonial period. (Please, if you know otherwise, we would love to hear about it!) We suspect that Arthur H. Hayward’s Colonial and Early American Lighting (1962) may provide some helpful guidance, but we are still working on obtaining a copy.

Some of the wording in this advertisement suggests that Jonathan Hall did make candles using some sort of clay. He states that his “Clay Candlesticks” were “suited for the intended Illumination,” implying that they gave off light. The price and quantity – “Two Pistareens per Hundred” – also suggests he sold candles that would be consumed as they burned. Why would anybody have purchased a hundred candlestick holders? (Retailers might in order to resell them, I suppose.) Buying a hundred candles, on the other hand, makes much more sense.

I considered waving Maia off from this advertisement, insisting that she choose another one that would yield more definitive conclusions. In the end, however, I felt that this advertisement effectively demonstrated the larger point she made in her analysis: the expansive gulf between colonists’ lives and our own. It’s not just that we do not regularly use candles as a primary source of light after dark. In addition, the exact nature of “Clay Candlesticks” confuses us because we cannot readily identify this product that apparently merited no further explanation for the colonists that Hall attempted to attract as customers. In my book, this certainly demonstrates change over time as well as changes in our relationships to material culture and everyday household goods.

Once again, if you know anything about “Clay Candlesticks” from the colonial period, please leave a comment and let us know.

April 4

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 4 - 4:3:1766 Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary
Massachusetts Gazette Extraordinary (April 3, 1766).

“Indian Corn, new Rice, Pitch and Tar, – and a great Variety of English Goods.”

My curiosity was caught by this advertisement because of the “Indian Corn.” At first, I thought that the Indian corn could refer to some sort of trade between Native Americans and the English settlers. However, upon further research I found it referred to the type of corn. Indian corn, or maize, was popular in Massachusetts especially because it was easy to grow there. Native Americans farmed and harvested it, using all parts of the corn, not only for food, but for making items such as baskets and hats as well.

Maize was indicative of an earlier relationship between the Massachusetts colonists and Native American tribes. The Indians helped the colonists in growing corn as the English found that their crops, such as wheat, were not very suitable to the new climate. In a sense the Indian corn is still a representation of trade, but it was an exchange of knowledge from the Native Americans to the English settlers.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

I appreciate how Maia identifies an exchange of knowledge as a precursor to the exchange of goods – “Indian Corn” in particular – envisioned in this advertisement. The evolving foodways of Africans, indigenous Americans, and Europeans that were part of the Columbian Exchange included trading knowledge about cultivation, preparation, and uses of a variety of new foods.

For English colonists, “new Rice” was an equally unfamiliar crop. Along with tobacco and indigo, many people recognize rice as a staple crop grown in the Chesapeake and Lower South. Slaves provided the necessary labor on rice plantations, enriching their masters in the process. Yet enslaved men and women contributed more than just their labor, significant enough in its own right. Africans were much more familiar with rice cultivation than Europeans. Enslaved Africans provided the experience and expertise growing rice that allowed European colonists to establish profitable plantations.

The first two items listed in this advertisement, “Indian Corn” and “new Rice,” both underscore that Europeans who ventured, settled, and traded throughout the Atlantic World depended on indigenous peoples, Africans and Native Americans, to supply knowledge about the foodstuffs that became part of their commerce and cuisine.

April 3

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Apr 3 - 4:3:1766 Pennsylvania Gazette
Pennsylvania Gazette (April 3, 1766).

“ANCHORS, Manufactured in AMERICA, … cheaper than any other Person can, or will, sell.”

Competition among vendors is certainly not exclusive to our time period, as this advertisement demonstrates. Charles Wharton used two main tactics to grasp the attention of his audience and potential customers, which would have been composed of mainly merchants and sailors. The marketing logic that he used appealed to American pride by mentioning that his anchors were made on home soil (which was especially important considering colonists’ feelings about British products and the Stamp Act), and it also speaks to frugality by proudly proclaiming that his prices are lower than anyone else’s.

The middle section of Wharton’s advertisement is rather assertive. Not only does he say no other person “can” match his prices, but he also writes that no other person “will” match his prices. I suppose, however, that modern advertisers do the same thing. In advocating for a product, advertisers have to be to some extent bold and brutal, willing to convince the public that their product is better at any cost.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

As Maia suggests, competition among vendors could be intense in the colonial era, especially in the larger port cities with growing populations and multiple newspapers disseminating messages aimed at consumers. Today’s advertisement came from the Pennsylvania Gazette, arguably the most successful, most significant, and most famous newspaper printed in America in the eighteenth century. It gained prominence under the direction of Benjamin Franklin (though in April 1766 it was operated by David Hall, his junior partner who took over the printing business many years earlier when Franklin retired to pursue other endeavors), making it the newspaper most recognized by general audiences in addition to scholars of early America, print culture, and journalism.

The Pennsylvania Gazette was so successful that it regularly distributed issues comprised of six pages in 1766. All of the other newspapers consulted for the Adverts 250 Project published only four pages per issue, though some occasionally printed a supplement or extraordinary halfsheet. The first and final pages were printed on one side of a broadsheet, the second and third pages on the other side, and then it was folded in half to create a four-page issue.

The Pennsylvania Gazette did the same, but included an additional halfsheet inserted in the issue. Although this gave the Pennsylvania Gazette half again as much space for content, in general most of that extra space was not devoted to news. Instead, it allowed for greater numbers of advertisements. The first four pages included approximately the same balance of news and advertising as in other newspapers, but the halfsheet was often filled exclusively with advertising, as was the case in the issue that included today’s advertisement. That commercial notice appeared on the first page, among several other advertisements, underscoring Maia’s argument: “competition among vendors is certainly not exclusive to our time period.”

Reflections from Guest Curator Maia Campbell

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

Prior to becoming a guest curator of the Adverts 250 Project, I had very little experience with the interpretation of advertisements, especially in the colonial age of the United States. As my primary field of interest is in twentieth-century American history, I was less familiar with the colonial age when beginning to work on this project. I also harbored an unfamiliarity with newspapers as a source, and especially with the advertisements. I learned more about the process of “doing” history in that it is best that I deal with a variety of sources, even types of sources that I have little experience with. “Doing” history is always a learning experience, and I have learned immensely about interpreting newspaper advertisements. Besides aiding me in my interpretation skills, studying colonial newspapers is one methodology in finding out about everyday life in colonial America. I have become more familiar with the needs of the colonists and their values through this week of exploring advertisements.

The research for history can be extensive, but it is rewarding. For this project, I did not do so much research as I did trying to figure out for myself the motivation behind advertisements. However, it did help to research historical context for the advertisements. Also, researching does not need to be in the form of the Internet, or by medium of printing. Researching can involve questioning and consulting an expert in the area of history to be explored. For example, in examining Tuesday’s advertisement in the New-London Gazette, I was at first confused as to the purpose of linens and rags for the newspaper. I needed to consult Professor Keyes because of his expertise on the subject. He helped to guide me in the correct direction.

One of the most challenging parts, for me, of guest curating was selecting advertisements. It took me an extensive period of time to choose which advertisements I would write commentary on because of the vast amount of advertisements available. With every advertisement I saw, I needed to assess what I would discuss. I desired to be precise and purposeful with every advertisement I selected. Choosing a random advertisement might bring a diversity of advertisements, however it can also make writing commentary on that advertisement more difficult. I found it easier to take my time in selecting advertisements. Thinking deeply about each one helped me to ultimately settle on the seven advertisements for this week.

It was very rewarding to be a part of this project. I think what was most rewarding for me was the improvement of my historical interpretation skills. In this project, I worked with a type of document that previously I had little experience with interpreting, and I believe I improved in interpreting these documents successfully. Not only did I improve in interpreting, but I also increased my knowledge of the American Colonial age, which now fascinates me even more.

I thoroughly enjoyed guest curating the Adverts 250 Project, and I look forward to being a guest curator in the future.

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ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:  Carl Robert Keyes

Thank you, Maia, for the wonderful job you did as guest curator during the past week.  Maia will be returning for one more week later this semester.

February 6

GUEST CURATOR:  Maia Campbell

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

Feb 6 - 2:3:1766 Boston Post-Boy
Boston Post-Boy (February 3, 1766)

“Tickets in the Faneuil-Hall Lottery, Sold by Green & Russell.”

It seems that the interest modern Americans have in the lottery is not a new interest, as the lottery in America has its roots in colonial times. I have never seen a colonial lottery advertisement before, so it intrigued me. The advertisement itself is so simplistic and short that one could miss it by reading through the paper too quickly. The lottery advertisement also shocked me because of the religious devotion in the American colonies.

To compare the advertisement to those of the lottery in today’s day and age: this advertisement is not flashy and designed to entice you. It received the same printing treatment as other advertisements. Today, lottery commercials and billboards are covered in enticing colors and images, and of course the added temptation arrives with the amount of money at stake. This advertisement simply gives the location of the tickets to be sold and who the tickets are being sold by.

I question if an advertisement such as this one was effective, and yet I do not think it would be included in this paper if the lottery did not have a target audience in the colonial period.

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I have long argued that many marketing practices that we assume originated in the twentieth century actually had precursors in the eighteenth century. As modern Americans, we sometimes imagine the past as being too different from the present, not realizing some of the similarities. Perhaps we sometimes focus too much on change over time and make assumptions about the extent to which life in the twenty-first century must be significantly different than life in the colonial era.

The same sentiment applies to lotteries, as Maia discovered when she selected her final advertisement for this week as guest curator. I’d like to offer two recent examinations of lotteries in early America: Matthew Wittmann’s “Lottery Mania in Colonial America” and Diana Williams’ “Lottery Fever: A Brief History of American Lotteries.”

Maia notes that nothing in particular distinguishes this advertisement. In fact, it is at the bottom of the final column of the last page of the newspaper, suggesting that it may have been inserted simply to fill the space. I echo Maia’s question: was this advertisement effective?!

Feb 6 - Final Page of Boston Post Boy 2:3:1766
Final Page of Boston Post-Boy (February 3, 1766).

Having examined a greater number of colonial American newspapers I can offer a bit more context about advertisements for lotteries (another category that I have previously chosen not to feature). While some are this short, others are much more extensive (see the example below, published less than a month earlier in the Pennsylvania Gazette). Many comment on the civic and public works projects that will be accomplished with the proceeds. Others include extensive charts that detail how many tickets will be sold, how many drawn, and the varying amounts of money to be awarded to winners. Just as advertisements for consumer goods and services could be as short as a couple of lines or extend over and entire column, advertisements for lotteries did not all loo the same.

Feb 6 - Lottery Advert - Pennsylvania Gazette 1:9:1766
Pennsylvania Gazette (January 9, 1766).