The Historic Trades and Skills community at Colonial Williamsburg use 18th-century tools and techniques to apprentice in and eventually master a more than 20 historic trades and skills. These world-renowned experts not only make goods and provide services to the Historic Area, they also consult and produce for other cultural institutions around the world. You will not find a trades community with so many experts in one place anywhere else.
A community of craftsmanship, our woodworking trades include carpenters, who use hand tools to transform trees into lumber, cut and raise timber building frames, and provide finishes such as siding and roofing; joiners, who produce finish work for buildings including doors, windows, shutters, and cupboards; cabinetmakers, who fashion intricate details of luxury products with hand tools; harpsichord makers, specialized craftpeople who build stringed keyboard musical instruments; coopers, who transform flat boards into barrels of assorted shapes and sizes; and wheelwrights, who combine wood and iron to make functional vehicle wheels.
The apparel tradespeople of Colonial Williamsburg are masters of 18th-century wardrobing. Weavers transform flax, cotton, and wool into precise fabrics; milliners create fine accessories; tailors measure and fit clothing for folks throughout the city; leather breeches makers create leather breeches for men and boys; shoemakers make footwear by hand; and wigmakers fashion statement-making headpieces.
Farm to Table Trades
Our farm to table trades work throughout the year to grow food for the community and to prepare the grounds as needed for the seasons to come. Historic cooks work in locations throughout the Historic Area preparing authentic colonial dishes; gardeners grow vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and maintain our Sankofa Heritage Garden and our Three Sisters Gardens; and farmers grows large-scale crops in the farming plot near the windmill.
Metalworking trades throughout the colonial capital work to support the operation of the town as well as the War for Independence. Blacksmiths forge hot iron into a variety of tools, weapons, and hardware; the foundry casts objects from metal; the gunsmith creates arms for the community; engravers create custom inscriptions and designs for metal objects; tinsmiths shape lightweight tools and utensils; and silversmiths create symbols of wealth and status.
Some of our skilled craftsman practice very specialized trades, including apothecaries, who share how medicine, wellness, and surgical practices of today compare with those of the 18th century; bookbinders, who specialize in the time-consuming skill of binding books, a luxury only few could afford; printers, mass communicators of the 18th century; and brick masons, who turn soft clay into solid foundations.
Coach & Livestock
Our coach and livestock team care for the rare breed animals that complement the living history on display at Colonial Williamsburg. The team acquires, husbands, and preserves animals such as horses, oxen, sheep, and fowl that would have thrived in 18th-century colonial British America, but are now considered threatened or endangered. Our menagerie of animals includes Leicester Longwool sheep, Cleveland Bay horses, and American Milking Red Devons, which have fewer than 200 animals registered annually in North America. The team also maintains pasture areas in and around the Historic Area and manage daily carriage operations.
Fifes & Drums
The Colonial Williamsburg Fifes & Drums are practitioners of 18th-century military music. On revolutionary battlefields, the fifes and drums were crucial communication as their sounds carried over long distances and cut through the noise of combat.
Make A Difference!
As we are not state or federally funded, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation relies on individual donations of any size to fulfill our mission: that the future may learn from the past. Send in your gift today and make a difference!