Print / View Finding Aid as Single Page

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to New York City-Indentures
1718-1727, 1792-1915
  MS 1988

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Maurita Baldock

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 02, 2011
Description is in English.

Scope and Content Note

This collection includes diverse material related to indentured servants and orphans in New York City. It includes the indentures of boys and girls as well as foundling records and the papers of freed slaves. The majority of the material is indentures outlining the terms of apprenticeship for boys and girls in New York City. Although the colonial indentures do not indicate an age for the apprentice, the post-revolutionary apprentices are mainly children, particularly New York City orphans or children of the poor. Only one girl's indenture from 1807 is an indenture created in exchange for passage to America. The indentures indicate if the agreement was cancelled and often provide a reason for its cancellation. They also record if the apprentice was adopted.

The collection also consists of the records of the foundlings from the Alms House and later the Department of Public Charities. These records describe the infant, record its health, and sometimes recount the circumstances of the child being found or left at the hospital. One volume of the foundling records documents the orphans who were indentured out. The records generally indicate the high number of death among the orphans. The collection also contains the free papers of former slaves. These include documents granting a slave freedom and documents verifying that a particular African American is a free person.

This collection supports research on foundlings and the indentured servitude of children in the late eighteenth to early twentieth century. The free papers provide documentation of manumission and the necessary papers of free blacks.


The materials in this collection are organized according to format and then chronologically.

The materials are organized into three series:

  1. Series 1: Indentures (1718-1902)
  2. Series 2: Foundling Records (1838-1915)
  3. Series 3: Free Papers (1803-1814)