Research

Indenture agreements

Held by the New York State Archives


Overview of the Records

Repository:

New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

Summary:
These volumes contain contractual agreements between the reformatory managers, inmates, and employers for indentured labor or apprenticeships. Contracts specified the employer must teach a trade, literacy and arithmetic; provide food, clothing, shelter, and, end of the apprenticeship terms. Inmates could not be hired out and the agreement could be not canceled without reformatory's consent. Contracts include agreement date; master's name, address, and occupation; inmate's name, age, case number; the type of trade to be taught; and apprenticeship duration.
Creator:
Title:
Quantity:
15 cu. ft.(39 volumes)Copies: 14microfilm reels; 35mm
Inclusive Dates:
1825-1904
Series Number:
A2066

Arrangement

Chronological by date of agreement.

Scope and Content Note

These volumes contain copies of contractual agreements between the reformatory managers, inmates, and employers (or "masters") to bind out inmates for fixed periods of indentured labor or apprenticeship. Binding out inmates was authorized in the institution's original charter of incorporation and was an integral part of its vocational rehabilitation program.

The agreements are printed standard forms. One form, in use from 1825 to June 1866, was a contract between an inmate and a master. Each contract was approved and signed by the President of the Board of Managers of the reformatory. The later form was a contract between the President and the master, with a separate "Apprentice's Agreement", signed by the inmate, on the reverse. Both contracts specified that the master assumed the following obligations: to teach a trade; to provide food, clothing, and shelter; to make available instruction in literacy and arithmetic; to provide, on expiration of the term of apprenticeship, a new set of clothing and, in many cases, a sum of money; and not to assign or hire out the inmate or to cancel the agreement without the reformatory's written consent. The later contract also included a stipulation that for each incident of cruelty or neglect the reformatory could recover $200 in damages from the master.

A complete agreement contained the following handwritten information that was entered on the printed form: date of agreement; master's name, address, and occupation; inmate's name, age, and case number; the type of trade to be taught; and the duration of the apprenticeship.

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions regarding access to or use of the material.

Alternate Formats Available

Microform is available at the New York State Archives through interlibrary loan.

Custodial History

The Department of Correction placed these records on loan to the Syracuse University Library from 1960-1977.

Access Terms

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