Your Moment of Apprenticeship ZEN

Indentured servant

A little history is fun.

To this end- history and fun- I am going to parse out a few historical facts and reminders about apprenticeship each month, for the remainder of 2017.

If you’re a regular reader here, you know I have mentioned before that the trades do a poor job of telling their own story. It’s an interesting story and has deep roots.

…and that whole thing of, “if you don’t know your history and learn from it, you are doomed to repeat it” ? Yes. I believe that’s a thing worthy of attention.

As I research and read about the trades in America I am struck by this clear thought; the history of apprenticeship helps us identify where the cultural stigmas, still prevalent today, came from.

Indentured Servitude not to be confused with Apprenticeship

Examples of indenture can be found as far back as the 15th century in England; quite simply it was the answer to short term labor concerns on large estates of land. As people were displaced from farming themselves, they ended up in the servitude of a lord or landowner. For the landowner this was cheaper than slave labor.

In the Americas, tobacco was the king of cash crops- and very labor intensive. Indenture was a complicated system starting with the laborer selling himself/herself into a contract of labor for a period of years to pay the indenture off. Landowners were enticed with larger parcels of land based on a “per servant “ basis, as in 50 acres per servant. The landholder (or headright) would then have to buy the indentured servant, paying off their passage from England, and the indentured servant then had a long road ahead to pay off the servitude. Indentured servants were often treated in a cruel and brutish manner.

Indentured servitude was NOT an apprenticeship, however some apprentices were in indentured positions. Here’s the distinction: indenture derives its name from the practice of tearing notches or indentions into the duplicate copies of apprenticeship forms. This uneven edge, in the hands of an apprentice, identified the form as a copy of the paperwork held by his master. This paperwork was signed by both the master and the guardian or parent of the apprentice- the general age of apprentices being 14.

To add to cultural bias and confusion, indentured servants ran the gamut from a criminal given indenture to pay off crime rather than hanging, to simply unskilled labor, to semi- skilled labor, and all the way up to craftsman with specific skills in smithing, brick making, carpentry, and weaving.

The craftsman class among indentured servants had the best chance of securing both better and shorter contracts.

With a confusing blurring of the lines between indentured servitude and true apprentices- and the fact that many men, women, and children were forced into severe poverty by indenture, a misplaced stigma stayed with apprenticeship in the Americas.

In your next moment of apprenticeship ZEN, we’ll explore real apprenticeship, master craftsman, and guilds.

Stay tuned….

Archive

Legrand 3 way wiring diagram

Legrand, Could I Love You More?

By Jenny Boone, Business Development, Independent Electrical Contractors Chesapeake/IECC
1/5/2019

No. Probably not.

The latest from Legrand- the Radiant SSL 7A LED Dimmer, combining the ...

read more
calgaryapprenticeshipprogram

How Do We Make Apprenticeship the New College?

By Grant Shmelzer Executive Director, Independent Electrical Contractors Chesapeake/IECC
1/3/2019

By recognizing it’s worth.

The Trades suffer from an image of not being professional ...

read more
Smart Tool ABB crimper

My Crimper Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student

By Jenny Boone, Business Development, Independent Electrical Contractors Chesapeake/IECC
1/3/2019

Seriously- can your Honor Student scan lug characteristics, automatically configure themselves for the perfect crimp ...

read more
clean air technology hospital clean room

Clean Rooms and Legrand SteriGuard

By Jenny Boone, Business Development, Independent Electrical Contractors Chesapeake/IECC
12/30/2018

In the unfortunate event that you, or someone you love, ends up in a hospital ...

read more