Thursday, January 8, 2015

OCCUPATION FILES ON ANCESTRY–1600-1995–What are they? Have you seen these?

CLARK_Benjamin_1644-1724_DelawareCraftPersonFile from 1700

I was researching one of my husband’s ancestors the other day (his 7th great grandfather, Benjamin Clarke), when I came across a record I had never seen before.

This record actually showed up when I was checking the shaky leaf on Ancestry.  I do check those shaky leafs every day.  Why?  Because it seems to me that whoever you have been working on recently will be shown on those hints.  Sometimes I find they are hints I am already familiar with, but many times, I have come across new information.  I’m NOT talking about family trees, but actual document records.

In this case it was the DELAWARE, CRAFTPERSON FILES, 1600-1995

I was not familiar with this set of records.  AND, I have absolutely no one who is from or ever lived in Delaware.  At least not that I’m aware of.

Why would Benjamin Clarke, who lived in Massachusetts be listed in this file?

Here is the explanation of this source, directly from Ancestry.

"About Delaware, Craftperson Files, 1600-1995

The Winterthur Library is devoted to the study of everyday life in America and America’s craft traditions, including furniture making, silversmithing, pottery making, textile production, etc. This collection includes images of a series of card files containing the names, working dates, places of residence, and other information about American craftspeople. Data on the cards relate to a wide range of craftspeople:
  • artists / painters
  • blacksmiths
  • engravers
  • fraktur artists
  • furniture makers / cabinetmakers / turners / joiners
  • gilders
  • clock- and watchmakers
  • glass workers
  • goldsmiths
  • graphic artists
  • jewelers
  • metalsmiths
  • potters
  • sculptors
  • silversmiths / silver plate workers
Information on the cards includes the names of craftspeople, occupation and working dates, birth and death dates, where they lived, what they made, notes about their professional lives, and bibliographical and source references. (Information about furniture makers and silversmiths is more complete than other occupations, and some of the cards don’t include complete information.)"
WOW!  That’s a lot of occupations.  And, look at the information that may be included on the cards.
  • Birth & death dates
  • Where they lived
  • Occupation & working dates
  • What they made
  • Notes about their professional lives
  • Bibliographical source references
The card shown above, for Benjamin Clarke, doesn’t list all of those items, but look what it does give me.  Year of birth & death, year the record was recorded, where he lived and his occupation.  And, by the way, this information matched what I already have for Benjamin, so I added it as a source for those items in my Legacy database.

Here are some other samples of cards in this database that contain different kinds of information.  I just began scrolling through the film and found these.  Some contain a lot of information and others just a little.


Craftperson card 1   Craftperson card 2   Craftperson card 3

Craftperson card 4   Craftperson card 5   Craftperson card 6

I’m anxious to continue exploring this database.
Please tell me if you were aware of this group of records?  If so, what have you found?  Or, if not, do you think it would be helpful to you?


FINDING OCCUPATIONS IN LEGACY 8 - How to use the search function 


Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2015   Diane Gould Hall


  1. Wow! Now, that's a neat collection I've never seen before. Do I think it'd be helpful to me? Not at this point... it seems almost every member of my family was a 'farmer' though I do have a few railroad workers. I haven't come across any craftsmen. But, this is very neat!

    1. Thanks Dana. I was so surprised when I found these. Lots of farmers and railroad workers for my family too, but for those few who weren't I'm hoping to find more info in these files.
      Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This is so cool Diane! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Jana. I'm certain there are way more cool "hidden" files and records on all the online sites that I haven't discovered. I just figure if I don't know about them, maybe there are one or two others who haven't run across them yet either. Gene happy dance :)
      The new discoveries keep us going, don't they?
      Thanks for your comment.

    2. Diane,

      I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

      Have a great weekend!

    3. Thanks so much Jana! Always an honor and much appreciated.

  3. Imagine the research you would be doing if they had included Reference and Source on Benjamin Clark's card. Great find for people with Delaware ancestry. ~ Cathy

    1. Cathy. That's true. The thing is,this database has more than Delaware records. Benjamin Clark lived his whole life in Masschusetts. So, this database is good for more than just Delaware ancestors. Maybe the repository was in Delaware and all the records held there? I don't know because the source reference on Ancestry didn't say. I need to check family search's wiki and see if the source is referenced there. Either way, it's an interesting find for sure. And, of course, for my ancestors the card will contain less information. LOL!
      Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your comment.

    2. Thanks Diane. I just found my 4th Great Grandfather Asahel Case. He was a furniture maker from Norwich, CT

    3. That's great Barbara. I'm just about to start looking for more people right now. Been busy the last couple of days. Hope his card had some good info on it. I know it can vary from person to person.
      Thanks for stopping by.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.