After a study of the Colonial trade using the Internet, articles, information from photographs, and resource books, students will write an original description of their colonial trade or job. The description will include the following:

  • Tell what the job does for the town and its people.
  • Describe the store or workshop. What goes on during the day? What things would people see who came to the shop?
  • Tell what tools the tradesman would use in the shop and how they would use them.
  • What other jobs does the person do besides the obvious one (Ex: Blacksmiths had pliers so they did some dental work if the village lacked a dentist).
  • Does the tradesman travel to nearby places or stay in the shop?
  • Tell about the products that are made. Tell how they are used by the towns people.
  • Use at least two sources for your information.
  • Be sure to write the description in complete sentences. Do not just make a list of things.

Below is an example of a colonial trade description for a blacksmith.

The Colonial Blacksmith

The colonial blacksmith was one of the most important people in colonial blacksmith. The term blacksmith included the jobs of several specialists: making locks (locksmith), making gun barrels (gunsmith), shod horses (ferrier), but if one person performed all of these tasks, he was known as the village smithy or blacksmith. If the village lacked a dentist, the blacksmith could be called upon to pull teeth since he was certain to have a pair of pliers. The blacksmith was also responsible for making wheel rims, knives and tools, nails, and door hinges. He was also called upon to repair most anything made of metal.

Left: Pliers and small hammer
Above: Anvil


The blacksmith worked by heating the metal bars to 3000 degrees until yellow-hot in a forge with a raised brick hearth outfitted with bellows to feed its coal fire. With the help of his apprentices and journeymen, the smith then used sledge hammers weighing as much as 12 pounds to hammer the bar into shape. His other tools included smaller hammers, anvils, pliers, tongs, gloves and a heavy apron.

It took several years for a man to become a blacksmith. First, he had to serve for 8 years as an apprentice working with a master blacksmith. During this time, he was not paid, but the master was responsible for providing him with room and board. The apprenticeship was followed by 5 years as a journeyman where he worked as a traveling craftsman. Finally, he became a blacksmith and could set up his own shop. Because of the long training process, people seldom switched jobs during their lifetimes.

 
Top of Page