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June 9, 2009

CW Art Museum's program focuses on 18th-century women and commerce

How did women in 18th-century Williamsburg earn a living? Four skilled tradeswomen who work in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades shops will discuss women in commerce during the program, Women in Trades, at 3 p.m. Thursdays, June 25, July 23 and Aug. 27 at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

Trade shops that will be represented include the Apothecary, Basketmaker, Cooper, Foundry, Historic Foodways, Millinery, Print Shop and Wig Shop.

Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Trades program traces its beginnings to 1936. Since that time, it has evolved to become the largest and most diverse museum-operated trades program 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, in addition to being an able interpreter. 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.

Colonial Williamsburg operates 21 trade sites that include the Apothecary Shop, Blacksmith Shop, Cabinetmaker Shop, Gunsmith and Foundry, Historic Foodways, Masonry Trades, Printing Office and Bookbindery, Shoemaker Shop, Silversmith Shop, the Weave Room, the Wheelwright Shop and the Wigmaker Shop, as well as basketmakers, coopers, carpenters and rural tradesmen, milliners, tailors and a behind-the-scenes toolmaker.

A Colonial Williamsburg admissions ticket or Good Neighbor Card provides access to enjoy these programs.

Programs and exhibitions at the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum are supported by the DeWitt Wallace Endowment Fund.

Entrance to Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums is through the Public Hospital of 1773 at 326 W. Francis St. The museums will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. For information and reservations call (757) 220-7724.

Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that preserves and operates the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia as a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture – stories of our journey to become Americans – while historic trades people research, demonstrate and preserve the 18th-century world of work and industry. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution guests interact with history through “Revolutionary City®” – a dramatic live street theater presentation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121