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Bound Labor in Philadelphia

Author: Sandy O’Keefe


Rudolph Blankenburg School

Year: 2008

Seminar: Philadelphia and the Immigrant Experience

Grade Level: 8

Keywords: apprentice, apprenticeships, bound labor, Colonial Philadelphia, immigrants, indentured servants, Philadelphia, redemptioners, servitude, workforce

School Subject(s): American History, History, Social Studies

This curriculum unit will spur an exploration of the experiences of those who worked as bound laborers, including indentured servants, apprenticeships and redemptioners, in Colonial Philadelphia. It is clear that not everyone who came to Philadelphia came as  free agents. So, this unit will explore the various experiences and lives of those who immigrated, lived and came to work as bound servants in Philadelphia.

This unit will also provide information and lessons on the apprenticeship systems that existed in Philadelphia. It will compare indentured servants and redemptioners to apprentices. It will discuss why certain types of apprentices existed and what the benefits were for those who worked as apprentices versus indentured servants. This unit will allow students to study the lives of those who lived in the city before they did and gain an appreciation for the role that bound servants of Philadelphia played in shaping the city’s workforce.

Servitude is an important topic in American history. Therefore, the goal of this curriculum unit is for students to gain a specific understanding as to the role of servants, specifically those who were indentured, in Philadelphia. This will help them to learn more about their city and the important role it has played in American history. The students will have to apply the learned information to meaningful classroom activities listed in this curriculum unit.

Download Unit: SandyOKeefe-2.pdf

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