WILLIAMSBURG-Colonial Williamsburg has introduced two new pilot programs that highlight the stories of minorities in the trades in the 18th century.
“Women at Work!” is a weekly 35-minute walking tour that explores women’s roles in the 18th century beyond the household. Some women also worked during the time period, either because they really liked a particular trade and wanted the sense of agency and accomplishment, or they had to work out of necessity. Tales focus on women who worked in the trades. During the 18th Century, women dominated trades included milliners (those who made and sold accessories like hats and gloves), mantua makers (women’s clothiers), and laundresses. The tour discusses women’s labor, skills, and rights in the 18th Century.
“We want to say these women’s names out loud, and give them a voice,” said Chris Strum, a journeyman silversmith with Colonial Williamsburg who helped create the tour. “We want to open people’s eyes to these stories and have them see the comparisons to their own lives.”
A sister tour called “Voices of Their Hands” explores the lives of enslaved tradespeople. Guests hear stories and learn about the experiences of enslaved Black people as skilled laborers during the 18th Century. There were enslaved people that worked in every trade.
“The aim is to humanize their story,” said Ayinde Martin, a journeyman carpenter with Colonial Williamsburg who helped create the “Voices of Their Hands” walking tour. “These are stories about survival. The idea is to have empathy and compassion. We want people to ask questions and explore more about it on their own afterward.”
“Voices of Their Hands” will be held on Tuesdays at 2:30pm through November 16 and “Women at Work!” will be held on Thursdays at 2:30pm through November 18. Both programs will return in March 2022. For more information, visit www.colonialwilliamsburg.org.