While processing my last collection, I ran across a veritable gold mine of interesting documents. In a box marked simply as “Oversized Items” I found a slew of early 19th century indentures. When we think of an historic indenture, documents created for indentured labour (servitude) typically come to mind. Indentures, however, were also created as legal contracts for the sale of land or the lending of money.
One of the most interesting features of most indentures were the “tooth-like” edges where the document had been torn into two copies (hence the name “indenture”). The copies could then later be re-fitted to confirm the authenticity of the document. The above indenture represents the lower copy of a document (see scalloped edges at top).
The above example of a land sale indenture is not signed by anyone famous, but is a simple transaction between family members. Some of the items in the collection, however, are signed by past governors of Tennessee (including Sam Houston) and two are signed by Andrew Jackson, seventh president of the United States.
Come by the Special Collections to have a look!