The education of new generations and the transmission of knowledge and skills from one generation to another is of course the fundament of any society, at any time. Recent historical researches have underlined the complexity of apprenticeship in early modern Europe and also its numerous varieties: apprentices could learn at home, with their parents and relatives, with the master or mistress and his/her family, or in charitable institutions. The topic of apprenticeship is, by its own nature, transversal and needs multidisciplinary analysis. Labour history, history of the techniques, of innovation and artistic creation, history of education and gender and family history are some of the approaches that can be used for a comprehensive study of apprenticeship in early modern Europe.
Some questions that can guide our analysis:
– Apprenticeship and guilds: is it a necessary link?
– Places of apprenticeship: family home, the master’s – or mistress’ – house and workshop, charitable institutions?
– Which knowledge and skills were transmitted to apprentices?
– What was the relation between apprenticeship and innovation?
– What kind of relations could exist – or had to exist – between masters, mistresses and apprentices?
– Was apprenticeship a work relation or a mode of education?
– Who could have access to apprenticeship?
– What happened to apprentices after the end of the apprenticeship period?
– What was the role of apprenticeship in the general economic evolution of early modern Europe and in the « little divergence » ?
X Seminar of Ph.D. Studies on The sources for European Economic History (13th-18th centuries)
APPRENTICESHIPS AND TRANSMISSIONS OF KNOWLEDGE
Arezzo – FraternitadeiLaici
3-7 July 2017
The Universities of Lille (IRHiS Lab) and Rouen (GRHIS Lab), in collaboration with ANR, IUF, Grand Réseau de Recherche-CSN, Université Paris-7 «Denis Diderot», Institut d’histoire moderne et contemporaine (CNRS-ENS-Université Paris-1), Fraternita dei Laici of Arezzo and the University of Siena (DSFUCI of Arezzo) offer 15 scholarships to young scholars – Masters 2, Ph.D. students, post-doc from within the European Community – dealing with the following research themes : apprenticeships, transmissions of knowledge, their connections with labour market and guilds in pre-industrial Europe. The scholarships will cover expenses for food and accommodation.
Over the span of five working days, the X session of the Doctoral Seminar of Arezzo will investigate “Apprenticeships and transmissions of knowledge in Europe (13th-18th centuries)”. Starting from this intentionally broad cover-title, this theme will be investigated in particular structures and attitudes of organisations connected with workers’ training and the transmissions of practical knowledge and know-how within the multiple sectors of European economy (including the areas of artistic production) during the Low Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Matters such as the importance of family and social networks, the role of women in transmitting practical skills and, more generally, the multiple links between apprenticeship, talent and artistic creation will also be investigated.
It has become increasingly clear that the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries represented a period of dramatic economic and social change in England. Indeed, the latest research from CamPop’s ‘Occupational Structure of Britain, 1379–1911’ project suggests that the most significant developments in English economic history may have occurred in these earlier centuries, and not in the period classically associated with the Industrial Revolution (c.1760-1840). Moreover, there is a growing sense that economic changes in the early modern period may have had much to do with changes in the working lives of women: Jan de Vries famously hypothesised that the century between 1650-1750 witnessed an ‘Industrious Revolution’ in which workers came to dedicate fewer hours to leisure and more hours to working, or especially in the case of women, came to direct their time not only towards domestic and subsistence work, but increasingly towards the production of goods to sell commercially.
Yet for all the emphasis on the extent of these changes, we still have remarkably little empirical evidence about the everyday working lives of early modern women. Part of the problem is that much of the ground-breaking research into the economic changes of the period focuses on the prevalence of different occupational groups at different times. As both Tawny Paul and Jonas Lindström have pointed out on this blog before, there are some important limitations to this approach. One is that women are rarely given an occupational title in the archival records from our period – they tend to be described by their marital status – and another is that occupational labels often obscure the fact that a man who is known as a ‘carpenter’, for instance, may actually be engaged in a wide range of work activities, such as farming or retailing ale, that are not captured by that title.
An Irish immigrant passes along the plastered stone walls and tiny windows of her New York employer’s basement kitchen and ascends the stairs. One flight takes her to the family’s main living spaces and another to the halls outside their bedrooms before she opens the door to the winding, steep and narrow set of tower stairs that offer the only access to the attic, and the three adjoining servants’ rooms there. A row of pegs on the plaster walls suggest that no chests of drawers sit on the room’s pine floors, but her modest wardrobe would scarcely require one. She reaches toward a shelf mounted high on the wall and lights a candle, the only flame in this hearthless room. Soot drifts across the whitewash.
Today, domestic servants like this woman often languish in what curator Patricia West has called “documentary obscurity.” The Irish women who once labored in and around Lindenwald–the Kinderhook, New York, home of retired U.S. President Martin Van Buren [1782-1862]–rarely appear in the archival record apart from the occasional passing reference in family correspondence, census records and other fragmentary mentions. The carbon shadow still visible on the wall today is among the few physical traces that remain of these women’s lives on Van Buren’s estate. Continue reading “Learning to Look: Built Environments as Sources of Insight on Women’s Work”→
The issues of ‘space’ and ‘place’ have been sources of increasing interest for historians in recent years. Concerns relating not only to where people lived and worked, but what those locations can communicate about the nature, sociability, and respectability of lives and occupations have inspired exciting new research questions that help us to understand not only where people lived, but how they lived. Of course, one of the main drawbacks of this avenue of enquiry, particularly for medieval and early modern historians, is the paucity of sources. Information regarding location can sometimes be pieced together, but discrete sources that clearly communicate locations are few and far between.
While definitions are vital for our understanding of the past, the use of the term ‘spinster’ can often prove problematic. There are at least two reasons for this. First, by the beginning of the seventeenth century it was clear that the term ‘spinster’ had emerged as the newest marital descriptor of that period, even though it had begun its life as an occupational designation for women (and was occasionally applied to men too). As a result, we cannot always be absolutely sure whether it was intended to have occupational or marital significance, although the context usually provides enough clues for us to make a good guess. This difficulty is somewhat reduced when we are looking at church court material. As an addition in court, ‘spinster’ was increasingly used in the context of ecclesiastical law, both in probate courts and in those dealing with moral and religious litigation, to refer to the never-married. Continue reading “What is a ‘spinster’? Spinster mothers in the seventeenth century.”→