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Amelia Earhart's Premarital Agreement?

Amelia Earhart was an American icon. She is one of, if not the, most famous female aviators in history. It turns out she was a woman ahead of her time contemplating marriage, according to documents released from Purdue University.

 

The internet has been abuzz about Amelia Earhart's "prenup." While most people don't remember much about marital property law in 1930s Connecticut, it's pretty clear that this document wouldn't hold water as a modern premarital agreement in Texas. The Texas Family Code demands certain formalities, such as the document must be signed by both parties. This document is not signed by either Amelia Earhart or her (future) husband, George P. Putnam.

 

Premarital agreements in Texas generally deal with the parties' property. The family code allows broad freedom to arrange marital property rights as the prospective husband and wife wish. This document looks like it doesn't deal with property rights, marital or otherwise, at all.

 

It looks like a letter from a woman who is contemplating a serious change in her life. She wants to continue her remarkable career and to maintain her privacy as she adds another person to it.  She even asks George to "let her go" in a year if they "find no happiness together." She seems to have a rather different view of monogamy than what was dictated by the customs of the times.  After all, adultery was a crime in many states in the 1930s. 

 

And, it turns out that she was way ahead of Connecticut. Adultery was illegal in Connecticut as recently as 1990, when four people were arrested and charged with a misdemeanor. Shortly thereafter, the Connecticut legislature voided the adultery criminal statute.

 

The letter appears below.

 

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