"Know all men that I, Thomas Millard, with the Consent of Henry Wolcott of Windsor unto whose custody & care at whose charge I was brought over out of England into New England, doe bynd myself as an apprentise for eight yeeres to serve William Pynchon of Springfield, his heires & assigns in all manner of lawful employmt unto the full ext of eight yeeres beginninge the 29 day of Sept 1640 & the said William doth condition to find the said Thomas meat drinke & clothing fitting such an apprentise & at the end of his tyme one new sure of apparell & forty shillings in mony: subscribed this 28 October 1640"
Apprenticeships for craftsmen, after long neglect, have again become popular as a viable alternative to formal education. In the past, the system provided for the preservation of the craft from one generation to the next, kept the master craftsmen supplied with cheap labor in an always marginal enterprise, and regulated the output of skilled workers according to the natural supply and demand of the market place. That the system was abused is well known; the dividing line between apprenticeships and indentured slavery was mighty thin, but it offered advantages to master and apprentice alike, and managed to endure as a common practice well beyond the industrial revolution.
The re-emergence of the small one-man workshop is once more creating conditions favorable for the acceptance of apprentices. Indeed, the advantage which traditionally favored the master craftsman is today more evenly shared, and for short-term apprenticeships the gain is clearly on the apprentice's side.