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The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Office of Communications Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776

Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Trades Program The depiction of 18th-century life in Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Area owes much to the wigmakers, printers, silversmiths and bookbinders who fill it with wonderful sounds, smells and textures. The Historic Trades program traces its beginnings to 1936. Since that time, it has evolved to become the largest and most diverse museum-operated trades programs in the world and also one of the most historically accurate, with a strong emphasis on both hands-on and documentary research. Each of the program's more than 70 artisans is a full-time professional in his or her trade. Most acquire the skills and knowledge required by serving an apprenticeship, and the program's mission to preserve 18th-century trades and skills depends upon each generation teaching the succeeding one. Not only are the tradesmen and women extraordinarily good at the technical aspects of their work, they also have passion for 18th-century objects and technology and for learning more about their trades. Even more importantly, they want to share what they know with visitors to the Historic Area. Colonial Williamsburg operates 18 trade sites that include the Apothecary, Basketmaker, Blacksmith, Brickyard, Cabinetmaker, Colonial Garden, Cooper, Gunsmith and Foundry, Joiner, Milliner and Tailor, Palace and Randolph Kitchens, Printing Office and Bookbindery, Shoemaker, Silversmith, Weaver, Wheelwright, Wigmaker and a behind-the-scenes toolmaker to support the other trades. The range of trades practiced allows the program to actually replicate an 18th-century production system. This community of artisans is involved in significant projects from which our guests gain insights into the society and technology that gave birth to America. The objects they painstakingly create are tangible reflections of the proud traditions of hand craftsmanship. Products made by our tradespeople are used throughout the Historic Area and in other museums, and some are offered for sale to the public through special order and at the Prentis Store on Duke of Gloucester Street. To provide guests with a unique experience each time they visit, Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Trades also provide a variety of seasonal programs and activities. Seasonal demonstrations include: Secrets of the Chocolate Maker--In the winter, spring and fall, guests can witness the long process of 18th-century chocolate making ­ from grinding cocoa beans to forming a chocolate patty to be grated into powder. Hogs to Ham--As part of this 18th-century meat preservation demonstration, food historians prepare a hog and illustrate meat preservation techniques, including salting, lard rendering and fresh pork cooking. The demonstration takes place in December. The Arts and Mysteries of Brewing--Beer making demonstrations are held at the Palace Scullery in the spring and fall. Brick Firing--Each Fall Colonial Williamsburg's brickmakers build a kiln and fire bricks that were molded during the summer months.

Historic Trades Program ­ Page 2

Keeping the trades alive is more and more urgent as our society becomes increasingly virtual. For many Americans, a diminishing appreciation for traditional labor and its demands-- developing adeptness and efficiency through years of rigorous practice under often unpleasant and arduous conditions--is coupled with a growing lack of understanding of process--the ability to analyze and undertake mechanical tasks. Colonial Williamsburg's tradesmen and women are living representations of the skills, ingenuity and dedication to excellence on which American society and our economy have been built.

-- CWF --

Media contact: Jim Bradley Penna Rogers (757) 220-7286 02/11


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