Washington D.C. Apprenticeship Records 1801-1811 Digitized & Posted at Ancestry.com

Ancestry.com just posted the “Indenture of Apprenticeship Recorded in the Orphans Court, Washington County, District of Columbia, 1801-1811.” It’s a hand-written digitized volume (originally from microfilm M2011), with the index preceding the indentures. You can browse the index or use Ancestry.com’s search engine to find names of possible relatives.

The following information is from an introduction to the Apprenticeship Records which was written by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens, based in part upon material written by Janet Weinart in 1962.

As noted above, the indentures follow the index, and are arranged chronologically and typically contain the following information (but necessarily all in every entry):
1. The name of the person to be apprentices, typically a minor.
2. The apprentice’s place of residence is often indicated, usually Washington, although some were from Maryland or Virginia
3. Age of apprentice
4. Name of person entering into the apprenticeship contract on behalf of the minor, typically the minor’s parent or guardian, or for orphans, the justices of the peace. However, some indentures indicate the minor is the contracting party; he is entering into the apprenticeship “with the assent of “ a parent or guardian.
5. Name of the master
6. Master’s place of residence, typically Georgetown or Washington
7. The trade that the master aggress to teach the apprentice.
8. The length of the apprenticeship. Boys were often apprenticed until age 21, girls were generally apprenticed until age 16
9. The apprentice’s date of birth may be inferred from the text if it includes language such as “until the [month, day, year] at which time the said apprentice … will be twenty-one years of age.
10. Terms that the apprentice agrees to abide by, such as to obey the master; not play cards, dice, or other unlawful; not frequent taverns or ale-house; not commit fornication or get married; nor waste the master’s property.
11. Terms the master agrees to abide by, such as to provide the apprentice with good clothing, shelter, food, and drink’ six months of schooling; “a customary freedom suit of clothes,’ and a sum of money.
12. Date of Indenture
13. If the apprentice was not white, his or her race (or that of the parents) was indicated.

Boys and girls entering into apprenticeships were from 5 to 17 years old. Occasionally an adult might apprentice himself to another in order to learn a trade.

Searching for the family name of “Belt,” I located two – Both for children of Middleton Belt. Following is the index page showing the entries:
Index page that includes the Belt family name

I chose look at page 45, that held one of the Middleton Belt entries – that for his son, Benjamin. Following is a screen shot of the page. the entry continued on page 46.

There are hundreds, possibly thousands of names in this volume. Check it out, and search for your family. Note that according to the website, the index is free, with an Ancestry.com membership required to access the digital images.

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