Famed aviator Amelia Earhart has been a subject of fascination since before most of us were born. That fascination has been kept alive by her mysterious disappearance during a 1937 flight in which she was attempting to be the first woman to fly around the world. On the 80th anniversary of her disappearance, she's once again in the news. New evidence, including a photo, has been discovered that indicates that Earhart and her navigator survived their plane crash and ended up in the Marshall Islands. They may have been taken into custody and possibly killed by the Japanese military.

Earhart was a woman ahead of her time in many ways. She had very nontraditional views about marriage, even by 21st century standards, and was concerned about the impact of her upcoming marriage to George Putnam on both of their lives and ambitions. These concerns are evidenced in a prenuptial agreement of sorts that she wrote in 1931 in the form of a letter to Putnam. The letter is included with her other papers at Purdue University, where Earhart once taught.

What Earhart's "Prenup" Spells Out

The one-page typewriter letter to Putnam starts out, "There are things which should be writ before we are married -- things we have talked over before -- most of them." Earhart acknowledges her qualms about marrying and even calls the decision "foolish." She makes it clear that neither of them should feel required to be faithful to one another. She also says, "Please let us not interfere with the other's work or play." She asks that the ups and downs of their relationship be kept private.

Earhart says that she wants to be able to "keep some place where I can go to be myself, now and then, for I cannot guarantee to endure at all times the confinement of even an attractive cage." Finally, she asks Putnam to promise to "let me go in a year if we find no happiness together."

A Precursor to Today's Prenups

This "prenup" makes no reference to ownership or division of assets or debts. However, it clearly lays out, long before such things were the norm, one woman's expectations as she warily contemplated her upcoming marriage.

Today, of course, prenuptial agreements are filled with details and legalese to protect both spouses in case of divorce -- and rightly so. However, they can also be used to codify other expectations that husbands and wives may have as they enter into marriage. Your family law attorney can help you draft a prenup that protects you in case of a divorce and addresses other issues that you feel are worth putting into this important legal document.