Join me as we talk tax records!
July is completely focused on providing you with genealogy tips that are …..well,….”out of the box”.
Welcome to DAY 20 of the 31 Days of “Out of the Box” Genealogy Tips series! Need to start at the beginning of the series or catch up? Start here.
DAY 20 – Tax Records
Tax records are some of my favorite genealogy resources! Why?[So glad you asked!]
With tax records, the genealogy researcher can track an ancestor year by year as opposed to decade by decade with the census records.
These records also provide clues to an ancestor’s life including:
- Who lived in their community
- Creeks and waterways across your ancestor’s property
- Names of neighbors
All of this type of information can lead to finding other records on your ancestor.
Genealogy Tip – Don’t just “grab your ancestor and run”. Take a little extra time in the record to learn about who is in the community. What are the prominent surnames? Who appear to be the larger land owners or wealthier people in the area? Make not of any observations and file these away for later. Understanding your ancestor’s community can be key in breaking through brick walls.
The information gathered and presented for any tax year will vary over time as well as location. I’ve been both pleasantly surprised and frustrated when searching tax records.
When working with these records, keep in mind the tax law of the time period you are researching. I can’t stress this enough.
For example, a poll tax may have been on men of a certain age range. If you ancestor does not appear in the tax record as expected, he may have aged out of paying that tax. He wasn’t necessarily skipping out on paying his taxes. You must know the who and what was being taxed in order to accurately interpret a tax record.
Where To Find Tax Records
Tax lists are frequently not online for research. Find these at the state archives or the county courthouse. Some state archives are putting some of the tax records genealogy researchers use online. Check your state archive’s digital collections periodically for updates.
Tax lists may also be on microfilm available for inter-library loan. For example, I research many Virginia family lines. I am able to get tax records on microfilm delivered to my library through ILL from the Library of Virginia. Check with your local librarian for finding tax records on microfilm that might be helpful in your research.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Determine if the tax records you need are online. If so, start searching! If not, make a plan to search these records in the future.
Check out previous posts in the 31 Days of Out of the Box Genealogy Tips:
Pin for Future Reference!