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Data from Record of indentures of individuals bound out as apprentices, servants, etc., and of German and other redemptioners, 1771 October 3 - 1773 October 5
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Data from Record of indentures of individuals bound out as apprentices, servants, etc., and of German and other redemptioners, 1771 October 3 - 1773 October 5

About this Dataset

This dataset was created from a volume of over 800 pages that records information pertaining to individuals entering contracts of indentured servitude in Philadelphia from 1771-1773. Each entry contains details about the person to be indentured, including their name, country of origin, length of contract, and amount of debt owed. The records not only list the name of the person, but contain details on their profession and on the terms of the indenture. Although the volume is described as the records of German immigrants, there are other indentures included, such as that of John Slour, "a free negro," records of those arriving from Ireland, and of young Philadelphians choosing to enter indentured contracts. The volume had been on loan to the City Archives until 1987. During that time, approximately twenty pages went missing. Otherwise, the volume appears to be complete and contains over 5,000 records. The records were kept during Benjamin Franklin's tenure as Postmaster of Philadelphia.

How these datasets were created

This dataset was created by Ben Weinstein and Cynthia Heider. The transcription process took place between June of 2017 and March of 2019 and is the product of the labor of multiple individuals, which naturally means that there was some inconsistency in input in some places. At the conclusion of the transcription process, Cynthia Heider imported the raw data .csv file into OpenRefine and lightly refined the data for more effective computational analysis. To this end, she split the "Name" field into two columns: "First and Middle Name," and "Last Name." She also standardized input into the "Bound As" field to reflect the status of the indentured individual ('Servant,' 'Apprentice,' or blank as indicated in the original indenture) where earlier transcription efforts had instead indicated the occupation at which the individual would be employed (i.e. "baker" or "breeches-maker"). Otherwise the transcription faithfully represents the contents of the indenture book as initially transcribed from the original document.

What these datasets are not

This is not a replacement for viewing the original postal records. Care was taken to minimize mistakes and inconsistencies while creating these datasets, but it being offered "as is". Despite the best efforts of all involved, mistakes often occur during the creation of datasets. Scholars are encouraged to consult the original record, in digital or physical format. A digitized version of the post office book (along with the datasets and an index) is available on the APS Digital Library:


These datasets are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License, feel free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; go ahead and remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose. We just ask that you attribute the APS Library.

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