January 2

GUEST CURATOR:  Benjamin Andonian

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

Massachusetts Spy (January 2, 1772).

“WANTED immediately, a Journeyman COMPOSITER.”

This advertisement struck me because it was related to the production of the newspapers we were reading in class.  This advertisement “WANTED immediately” a compositor at a newspaper. I thought it would be interesting to learn about what a compositor is and how this might increase my knowledge of early American newspapers.

The invention of movable type opened the door for a new age of printing in Europe in the 1500s.  That meant new crafts and careers, including compositors. Compositors arranged the letters in advance of them being covered in ink.  Historian Liz Covart describes the job expectations step by step.  The compositor starts with the composition stick, placing letters in proper order.  The placement of letters is done in opposite order, right to left, so they appear right side up and left to right on final edition.  After a quick check to clean up errors, compositors place their work in a chase to be inked up and printed.

I found it very interesting how the printing press offered positions for compositors and others to make the newspapers we read in class and consulted for this project.  Each sentence, letter, and word or punctuation mark was positioned by a compositor like the one sought in this advertisement.  Seeing such a specific job and the steps involved made me think of the process today and the new jobs and careers that the internet has created, like the printing press did in early America.  Lily Talavera expands on this in an article about the booming market for social media jobs.  According to Talavera, “Social media has created a new category of jobs. You may have heard them as social media jobs or with other names relevant to the requested tasks. These jobs are in high demand, and many people already work full-time on social media.”  Innovations in delivering news today have a similar effect on creating new kinds of jobs as an innovation like the printing press had in creating jobs for compositors in the early modern period.

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ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:  Carl Robert Keyes

When I taught a course about Revolutionary America, 1763-1815, in Fall 2021, I once again incorporated the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.  I asked each of the twenty-three students in the class to serve as guest curators for those projects.  Each of them was responsible for compiling a digital archive of newspapers originally published during a particular week in 1772.  Then they scoured the newspapers to identify advertisements about enslaved men, women, and children for inclusion in the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.  For each of those advertisements, the guest curators composed tweets that included the project’s tagline, a quotation, and a citation.  For the Adverts 250 Project, each student selected one advertisement to research in greater detail, consulting at least one secondary source by an historian of early America, and then wrote an entry about what they learned and what the advertisement reveals about some aspect of commerce, politics, or daily life during the era of the American Revolution.

Ben is the first of the students from that class to have his work as a guest curator appear on the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project.  In many ways, it is very fitting that he starts the entries researched and written for that class with one that examines an advertisement about the printing trade.  We devoted a lot of time to discussing print culture, consumer culture, slavery, and their intersections during the era of the American Revolution.  Compositors set the type for the newspapers, broadsides (including the Declaration of Independence), and pamphlets (such as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense) that kept colonizers informed during the imperial crisis and, ultimately, encouraged them to sever their political allegiance to Great Britain.  Compositors also set the type for the countless newspaper advertisements that offered enslaved people for sale or promised rewards for the capture and return of those who liberated themselves from their enslavers.  Liberty and slavery appeared side by side on the pages of newspaper published during the era of the American Revolution.  Compositors also set the type for advertisements for consumer goods as well as essays that critiqued consumption and editorials that advocated nonimportation agreements and promoted “domestic manufactures” as means of exerting economic pressure to achieve political ends.

I invited students to contemplate all of these developments, not only in the abstract but also taking into consideration actual people and their experiences during the era of the American Revolution.  This advertisement for a “Journeyman COMPOSITER” provides a springboard for considering the many themes woven throughout the Revolutionary America class that I designed and that Ben completed.  Throughout the colonies, compositors played a role in presenting news and opinions about current events to the public.  They also played a role in shaping consumer culture and perpetuating slavery.  Beyond their contributions to producing the printed page, compositors made decisions about their own political activities and what kind of society they wanted to emerge from the American Revolution.  That being the case, Ben’s choice of an advertisement to start a new round of entries from guest curators is very fitting indeed.

Welcome, Guest Curator Patrick Waters

Patrick Waters is a senior at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is majoring in Marketing major with a minor in Information Technology. He recently made a presentation about his work on the Adverts 250 Project and the Slavery Adverts 250 Project at Assumption College’s twenty-fifth annual Undergraduate Symposium. For the past three years he has been working for Dell in their Social Media Strategy and Governance department. He has passion for high tech and enjoys learning about American history.

Welcome, Patrick Waters!

Welcome, Guest Curator Samantha Surowiec

Samantha Surowiec is a sophomore at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, where she is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science and Psychology. Growing up near Boston, she developed a love for Revolutionary America and U.S. history from a young age, but she is also very interested in many other periods and places in history. She is a member of the Honors Program and SOPHIA (Sophomore Initiative at Assumption) Program. She is one of twelve Admissions Ambassadors on campus, an executive board member of the Residence Hall Association, and a writer for the school newspaper, Le Provocateur.

Welcome, Samantha Surowiec!

Welcome, Guest Curator Matthew Ringstaff

Matthew Ringstaff is a sophomore at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.  He is majoring in History and minoring in Art History.  He was born and raised in Sicklerville in southern New Jersey and never really left the state until he ventured to college in Worcester. He is the middle of three sons in his family.  His older brother, Bill, is a police sergeant in Bridgeton New Jersey. His younger brother, Mark, is in high school and works at IHOP. Matt admires his unbelievable work ethic. Most significantly, his mother, Christine Ringstaff, an amazing woman who worked three jobs to give her children every possible opportunity, inspires him.  He credits her as the best role model anyone could have. He strives to match her grit, wittiness, and resilience in all of his endeavors as a student, as an athlete, and throughout every aspect of his life.

Welcome, Matthew Ringstaff!

Welcome, Guest Curator Aidan Griffin!

Aidan Griffin is a junior at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is majoring in History and minoring in Sociology. He enjoys studying history because history is much more than the study of the past and of dead people. History is very much alive, looking for the effects of actions that, even if done long ago, still greatly affect the present and the future. He is fairly knowledgeable about a range of topics, ranging from future population estimates to facts about cannibalism. He also can speak Spanish, German, and Russian, but only for one word, which is “no.” He will be a guest curator for the Adverts 250 Project from March 31, 2019, to April 6, 2019.

Welcome, Aidan Griffin!

Welcome, Guest Curator Sean Duda!

Sean Duda is a sophomore at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He is double majoring in History and Education. He is also pursuing a minor in Music. He is a member of several organizations on campus, including Music Ministry, Jazz Band, Charismatic Praise, and Advocates for Life. He enjoys learning how to play new instruments and learning about Medieval Europe.

Welcome, Sean Duda!

Welcome, Guest Curator Zachary Dubreuil!

Zachary Dubreuil is a sophomore majoring in history at Assumption College. He plans to become a museum curator. He enjoys learning about the American Revolution, World War II, and the War on Terror. He is a part of multiple campus organizations, including the Residence Hall Association and Peer Ministry. He also plays on the club Ultimate Frisbee Team.

Welcome, Zachary Dubreuil!

Welcome, Guest Curator Luke DiCicco!

Luke DiCicco is a sophomore with a double major in History and Political Science at Assumption College. His main historical interests include the World Wars and the history of Europe, but he is always eager to learn about anything related to history. He is a member of the Honors Program as well as a resident assistant in Hanrahan Hall. He is involved in the Resident Hall Association and Peer Ministry. He just returned from a SEND trip (or alternative spring break) to Washington, DC.

Welcome, Luke DiCicco!

Welcome, Guest Curator Olivia Burke!

Olivia Burke is a junior at Assumption College. She is majoring in history and is in the Honors Program. Next year, Olivia will complete her senior capstone thesis on the African American experience in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Besides the Honors Program, Olivia competes on the equestrian team, is in music ministry, and works in Admissions as an administrative assistant. Seasonally, Olivia is an interpretation ranger for the National Park Service at Cape Cod National Seashore. She leads programs for the public such as guided hikes, activities for children, and history lectures.

Welcome, Olivia Burke!