By Nathan W. Murphy, AG®
[This article was originally published in the National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 93, No. 1 (Mar 2005): 5-24)
Indentured servants were not glamorous or famous figures in colonial America. Nevertheless, family historians are interested in knowing that an ancestor—male or female—may have been indentured. More important, the designation “indentured servant” signifies that the individual immigrated—a fact that surviving colonial sources often do not clarify and one that can open doors to finding the ancestor in European records.
Indentured servants can be found among the forebears of most people with southern colonial ancestry. Identifying an ancestor as indentured, however, is a challenge. These men and women created few records while bound and, once they became free, records might not mention their previous status. More daunting is tracing known indentured servants back to their arrival in America and from there to a European port of departure and place of birth. Some original records generated specifically about these servants have been lost, but many sources survive in the United States and Europe that can help researchers identify these ancestors and understand their lives.To continue reading: Click Here.