September 5

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

Pennsylvania Journal (September 5, 1771).

“The French academy.”

Francis Daymon, “Master of the FRENCH, LATIN,” placed newspaper advertisements to offer his services as a tutor to the “ladies and gentlemen” of Philadelphia.  His notice in the September 5, 1771, edition of the Pennsylvania Journalfocused primarily on teaching French.  Daymon declared that he taught “the useful and polite French language in the newest and most expeditious method.”  Furthermore, he utilized techniques “agreeable to the latest improvements of the French academy.”  He made these claims in order to convince prospective students that he provided effective instruction that incorporated methods approved by authorities in his field.

Daymon offered lessons in two settings.  Students could “choose to be instructed at their respective places of abode” during the day or they could “choose to attend his regular class” in the evenings.  He described that class as the “French academy,” though his students gathered at his house across the street from the London Coffee House on Front Street.  Those lessons had already commenced, but the tutor welcomed newcomers.  He had not yet booked private lessons during the day, but encouraged prospective students who desired individual instruction “speedily to apply” in order to hire his services “at convenient hours.”

In addition to lessons, Daymon also offered to sell books to his pupils.  Most schoolmasters and tutors did not mention that sort of ancillary service in their newspaper advertisements.  Daymon, on the other hand, devoted a nota bene to informing readers that “received by one of the last ships from London, a choice collection of French, &c. books, very suitable for his scholar.”  In addition, he expected another three hundred volumes to arrive soon via another vessel.  Prospective students did not need to visit booksellers seeking out books appropriate for Daymon’s curriculum.  Instead, he acquired and sold them as a convenience, one that made his lessons even more accessible for his scholars.

In his efforts to cultivate a clientele, Daymon promoted his methods of instruction, offered lessons in multiple settings to suit the preferences of his students, and supplied texts (at an additional fee) to aid his pupils in their studies.  He promoted these various resources so prospective students could envision successful language acquisition if they gave the French tutor a chance.