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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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"Consumer's Guide"

The Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog dates back to 1888, when Richard Sears first used a mailer to sell watches and jewelry. The U.S. Post Office provided a boon to the mail order business by allowing mail order publications to be classified as [...]

A Maryland Slave Runs Toward Freedom

Runaway slave advertisements offer a wealth of information about the movements and motivations of escaped slaves. This advertisement offers a reward for the capture and return of Sam MacKall, a Maryland slave who ran away from his master in Prince [...]

Item Type: Advertisement
Runaway Slave Advertisement from Antebellum Virginia

In this handbill from 1854, a Virginia slaveowner advertises a large reward for the return of a 33 year-old enslaved man. Historians have noted the use of woodprint images, such as the one seen here, as evidence of the frequency of runaway [...]

Item Type: Advertisement
A Freedman Seeks to Reunite His Family

After emancipation, many former slaves immediately searched for family members who had been sold away during slavery. They used whatever scant information they had and frequently placed advertisements like this in southern newspapers.

Slave Advertisements in Colonial New York

As in the southern colonies, New York newspapers were filled with slave advertisements that provide many details about the life and labor of enslaved New Yorkers. Historian Jill Lepore calculates that 253 advertisements for runaway slaves and [...]

"Newcomers Help Massachusetts Economy"

While immigrants have long been portrayed as representing unfair competition for American-born workers and maligned as a burden on social services, data shows that their presence is beneficial, even essential, to the economy. As these statistics [...]

"Hughes's Life and Career"

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) is commonly recognized as a leading writer of the Harlem Renaissance (1919-1929). In "Hughes's Life and Career," Arnold Rampersad, professor of humanities at Stanford University, provides a biographical essay that [...]

"'The White Man's Burden' and Its Critics"

Jim Zwick is an American Studies scholar and author of Confronting Imperialism: Essays on Mark Twain and the Anti-Imperialist League and Mark Twain's Weapons of Satire: Anti-Imperialist Writings on the Philippine-American War, as well as numerous [...]

Massachusetts Anti-Federalists Oppose the Three-Fifths Compromise

The ratification of the United States Constitution was the subject of intense debate between 1787 and 1789. One particularly controversial issue was the Three Fifths Compromise, which settled how enslaved people would be counted for purposes of [...]

"Life in the Shop": The Story of an Immigrant Garment Worker

Clara Lemlich ignited the 1909 walkout of shirtwaist makers with her call for a general strike. This piece was first published in the New York Evening Journal, November 28, 1909.

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