Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Research Tip: Federal Tax Assessment Lists

By July 1862 the federal government already faced mounting debts from fighting the Civil War. As a result, Congress passed the Internal Revenue Act, which imposed federal taxes on an individual's income, as well as on the purchase of many products and service.

Indiana tax lists from the 1800s were based on how much property someone owned, usually real estate, but sometimes also personal property (such as livestock) if it reached a certain minimum value.

However, the federal taxes that were assessed during the Civil War focused on those who owned personal property such as a horse and wagon, or professionals such as doctors and lawyers who received a license from the state. As such, these federal assessment lists from the 1860s can give you insight into a different group of ancestors than those that were included on Indiana's property tax lists from the same period.

An 1862 federal tax assessment list for Johnson County, Indiana:
Johnson County, Indiana federal tax assessment, 1862. Image courtesy Ancestry.com. Click here for full-size PDF (will open in new tab.)

The National Archives has microfilmed these federal tax assessment lists. Indiana's portion covers 1862 through 1866. Digital images are available at both Ancestry.com (subscription required) and FamilySearch (free): 

For the FamilySearch database, you must browse the digital images; they are not yet indexed there. The records are arranged by state and then by county. Ancestry.com's database does have a searchable index, but if you also want to browse the digital images, be aware that they are arranged by state and then Congressional District, not by county. We have a table (PDF format) of Indiana's 92 counties and what Congressional District they were in from 1821 through 1911.

You might want to compare the quality/legibility of the digital images on the two sites. Here is the same Johnson County 1862 list, as viewed on FamilySearch:

Johnson County, Indiana federal tax assessmet, 1862. Image courtesy FamilySearch. Click here for full-size PDF (will open in new tab).
This article originally appeared in the Indiana Genealogical Society's free monthly email newsletter, Indiana News, which features news and information about Indiana genealogy. Click here to subscribe for free, so you can stay up-to-date and learn about Hoosier family history resources.

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