We do not award selection for the Directory lightly. A jury of museum curators, university professors, antiques dealers and collectors screens each entrant's work. The work is reviewed and rated by experts working in the area of a particular craft (furniture experts judge furniture, textile experts judge textiles), and the cumulative judgment of each of these jurors leads to the selection of a particular artist's work to be included in the Directory. The work is judged anonymously. The judges identify work by number and are not told whose work they are evaluating. In  the last few years, our board of jurors has numbered about twenty.

The jurors evaluate each work using a five-point scale. 

The highest rating is Museum Quality, which indicates the artist has achieved or surpassed the highest standards and the work is suitable for display in a museum now and undoubtedly will find its way there in the future. 

One step down is rated Master, indicating the artist has achieved a full mastery of his medium, technique, and skills. His work is the same quality as the best available in early America. 

At the midpoint of the scale is Journeyman, indicating now as in days gone by the work of one who is competent at his craft and produces work acceptable in fit, feel, and finish for general commerce of the day. The journeyman will likely hone his skills and one day become a master. 

The Apprentice level reflects the talents of one who is new to a craft and has not yet learned its intricacies. 

At the bottom, we rate as Does not belong in this competition the work that does not make the minimum standard for grading, often because of a misinterpretation of our goals and requirements. 

In general, jurors rate the work we include in the Directory at the Master level or higher. Because the jurying is inevitably subjective, one juror's Journeyman is another's Master, so we combine the results of multiple jurors to minimize the effects of personal preferences. 

Entrants must pay a fee to participate. This ensures that artists are serious about their participation as well as helps to pay the expenses of this almost-overwhelming project. We use this fee to pay for solicitation (the mailing out of entry forms to those who request them), the clerical and administrative costs associated with processing the applications and preparing the entries for judging, costs involved in jurying (including honoraria, mailing and telephone expenses, and the like), arrangement of a site for and the photography of selected pieces of the work for inclusion in Early American Life magazine, and the cost of return of those works lent to us for photography.  

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