Bound and filed: A seventeenth-century service indenture from a scattered archive

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The history of indentured migration to seventeenth-century English America relies heavily on a single body of sources known as the London record, a collection of contracts and registrations of servants who emigrated from the capital between 1683 and 1686. Of the original 1,000 contracts, 189 have long been considered to be missing. This article uses methods from the study of paperwork and print culture to demonstrate that Huntington Library item HM 1365 is one of those missing contracts. Read as a part of its parent collection, this indenture is evidence of how the writing and archiving of late seventeenth-century transatlantic service contracts functioned to constrain would-be servants' choices and protections during recruitment and servitude, while legitimizing new and exploitative practices in colonial labor relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-190
JournalEarly American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • indentured servitude
  • consent
  • contract
  • coertion
  • paperwork
  • record keeping
  • print culture
  • labor
  • mitigation
  • brokers
  • servant trade
  • justice of the peace
  • Atlantic History
  • London
  • Virginia


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