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Elizabeth (Murray) Campbell, Boston Evening-Post, 14 May 1759, "Shop Advertisement." Courtesy, American Antiquarian Society.

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Elizabeth (Murray) Campbell, Advertisement

These three advertisements suggest the extent to which male and female traders carried similar or distinctive stock. Evidence suggests that colonial traders carried a wider range of goods than their counterparts in England, who tended to specialize more.

This column of advertisements links three people who were intimately connected in life as well as in print. Elizabeth (Murray) Campbell had lost her husband Thomas Campbell to measles in February 1759. That spring, she shifted shop location and helped set up her friend Jane, or Jannette, Day in the shop she had occupied throughout the 1750s. Ralph Inman, who had become friends with Elizabeth by 1753, became her third husband twelve years later, in 1771.

Hidden from view in this advertisement are complex negotiations over renting commercial space. Apparently, without discussing the matter with her landlord, Elizabeth had helped her friend Jannette move into the premises she had rented. The landlord, who had already agreed to rent the shop space to another woman shopkeeper, Sarah Todd, placed a notice in the press explaining the confusion in March 1759. The matter was not resolved until August, when Sarah Todd and her partner Mary Purcell moved into the shop. Mary Purcell, who had worked with her sister Eleanor and also with Jane Eustis previously, remained in business with Sarah Todd until Todd's death in 1777.

For more on advertising and women's business partnerships, see Patricia Cleary, Elizabeth Murray: A Woman's Pursuit of Independence in Eighteenth-Century America (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2000).


For other examples of colonial advertising, see Trade Cards, Broadsides and Advertisements in Browse the Collection portion of our site.