Craftsman Database — FAQ
What's the difference between Search and Browse?
Search produces results sorted by their relevance to your parameters. A browse displays the results sorted alphabetically.
How do I print my search results?
Use your internet browser's "Print" function (usually found under the "File" menu item) to print pages. If you have a PDF creator or virtual printer installed on your computer you can "Print" to your search results to a PDF document.
How can I save my search results?
Select the box next to "Click to Save Record" and the record will be saved in your "basket." To view your saved records, click "Show Click to Save Record Items" at the top of the page (next to "Previous Page" and "Next Page" navigation options). Your saved records will be kept for the duration of your session in the Craftsman Database but will be cleared once you leave the site.
How many craftsman records are there?
There are nearly 85,000 records covering craftsman primarily working in the South but some have been identified in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. The records begin as early as 1585 and extend through 1860. The Craftsman Database continues to grow as MESDA’s researchers examine new and recently acquired documents. As MESDA research associates identify new craftsmen or add new material concerning existing craftsmen, that information will appear in the Biblio Source field located below the card images. If a craftsman has been identified after MESDA switched to digital recording, then no card images will be present.
What do I need to know about Craftsman Names?
Names appear last name first. Names of apprentices are accompanied by the names of their masters (in capital letters) and “apprentice” will appear after the trade in the occupation field. If artisans have been found working in two or more locations, they are listed in each, with separate MESDA identification numbers. Caution must be used when identifying migrating craftsmen. When names appear twice, they may or may not represent the same person; to conclude that two listings of the same name do indeed refer to the same person in different regions is a judgment to be made by the researcher based on all the information available.
What do I need to know about Dates?
The dates included represent the range of dates found in documents pertaining to the artisans in those locations. As MESDA research continues, the date ranges may change when new information is added to an artisan's files.
What do I need to know about Trades?
The trades listed may contain several occupations that an individual artisan appears to have followed, based on the documented evidence examined. Normally, the trades artisans worked in are related in some way.
What do I need to know about Geographic Location?
To search artisans from all cities and towns in a state, choose the abbreviation for the state you want to search (i.e, "N.C." for North Carolina or "D.C." for District of Columbia). Some artisans do not have a specified city or town and will be found by searching the full name of the state (i.e., "Maryland (unspecified)" or "Alabama"). If you are searching for artisans in a county that contains one or more towns or cities, you may need to search for multiple locations. For example, say you are searching for a craftsman in Fayette County, Kentucky, you will also need to search “Lexington, Ky.” Entering “Fayette Co., Ky.” will only result in those craftsman identified outside of Lexington.
Individuals who worked in the Wachovia Area of North Carolina have been documented in a separate database. If your search results include Wachovia Area craftsmen, you will see basic information about their records but for now will need to come to the Research Center to access the full text. MESDA plans to digitize the Wachovia Area resident cards and incorporate them into the Craftsman Database in the future.
If artisans have been found working in two or more locations, they are listed in each location, with separate MESDA identification numbers. Again, caution must be used when identifying migrating craftsmen. When names appear twice, they may or may not represent the same person; to conclude that two listings of the same name do indeed refer to the same person in different regions is a judgment to be made by the researcher based on all the information available.
While primarily focused on MESDA’s early South (Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee), some effort has been made to identify migrating craftsmen in cities and towns in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. Primarily drawn from city directories, you will encounter records in the Craftsman Database for men and women working outside of the MESDA’s seven-state region.