Artisans in the 18th Century

GradeS 5-8


  • Students will learn about the trades and crafts practiced on Elfreth's Alley and Philadelphia in the 18th century
  • Students will learn about the apprenticeship system in colonial and federal Philadelphia
  • Students will recognize differences between paths to careers in 18th century and the present day


Chart paper, chalk or white board, or SmartBoard techonology.


  • Have students brainstorm a list of trades and crafts. Record on chart paper. Teacher should guide discussion toward pre-industrial trade  
  • From the list generated, teacher will choose a number of trades/crafts that are represented on Elfreth's Alley (see Appendix 1)
  • Student will research how the assigned craft was learned and the terms of apprenticeship
  • Discuss what might have restricted a potential apprentice from a particular trade, i.e. race, religion, etc.
  • Individually or in groups, students will use selected websites and/or published sources to discover the tools and training needed for a particular trade.


  • Students will create a poster advertising for apprentices for their assigned trade. He/she should indicate understanding of the craft and what the employer is looking for.
  • Student will create an apprentices "journal page" about the work day in their craft and their living circumstances


8.1 (B,C); 8.2 (A,B,C,D); 8.3 (A,B,C)