Historical archaeologists investigating early American production and trade must work with the written record as well as the evidence from controlled excavation. Both kinds of data have their place in the inquiry, yet the details they furnish are not necessarily congruent or applicable to the solution of all historical questions. To illustrate, artifacts were not always manufactured in the places where they are found, but in order to resolve this uncertainty accurately and directly, the origins of excavated materials must often be determined by means that are independent of historic documentation. If sources can be shown to be distant, then despite any similarity to items of known local manufacture or written evidence suggesting otherwise, long-range exchange structures must have been present. The interpretation of archaeological and historical data can then be guided by more informed judgment.