It’s time to pay taxes in the United States! Is it any consolation that our ancestors paid them, too? Here’s a brief history of U.S. federal taxation and tips on where to find tax records for the U.S. and the U.K.
History of Tax Records
The Supreme Court halted a later attempt by Congress to levy another income tax, saying it was unconstitutional.
In 1913 the 16th Amendment granted that power. Even then, only 1% of the population paid income taxes because most folks met the exemptions and deductions. Tax rates varied from 1% to 6%–wouldn’t we love to see those rates now!
Where to Find Tax Records
Ancestry.com has indexed images of U.S. federal tax assessment lists from the Civil War period (and beyond, for some territories).
Here’s a sample image from Arkansas:
Of course, the U.S. federal income tax is just one type. Taxes have been levied on real estate, personal property and income by local, regional and national governments throughout the world.
Some tax records can be found online at the largest genealogy websites.
Here are examples of tax records that can be found at Ancestry:
- tax records from London (1692-1932);
- the U.S. states of Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Ohio, Georgia and Texas;
- and many from Scotland, Ireland, Canada and Russia (there’s more: see a full list and descriptions here).
In addition to genealogy websites, here in the U.S., look for original real estate and personal property taxpayer lists in county courthouses or state archives.
It’s also a good idea to consult genealogical or historical organizations and guides. A Google search for “tax records genealogy Virginia” brings up great results from the Library of Virginia and Binns Genealogy. And here’s a search tip: Use the keyword “genealogy” so historical records will pop up. Without that term, you’re going to get results that talk about paying taxes today.
If you still haven’t found the tax records you are looking for, there are two more excellent resources available for finding out what else might be available within a particular jurisdiction.
The first is the FamilySearch Wiki. From the home page you can drill down using the map, or try a search in the search box. Search for the jurisdiction and the keyword tax. Click through to the page for that jurisdiction. Typically you will find a table of contents that includes links to the section of the page covering various topics. Look for a link to tax, taxes, tax records, or taxation. They will list known sources for tax records in that area.
The second resource for finding out what else might be available is the free USGenWeb site. Like the FamilySearch Wiki, it’s organized by location / jurisdiction. Drill down to the place and then look for the section listing the known records for that area and look for tax related links.
Why It’s Worth Finding Tax Records
I’ll leave you with this tantalizing list of data gathered in the Calhoun County, Georgia tax list of 1873. It enumerates whites, children, the blind/deaf/dumb, dentists, auctioneers, and those who have ten-pin alleys, pool tables and skating rinks. Then, real estate is assessed in detail. Finally, each person’s amount of money, investments, merchandise, household furniture, and investment in manufacturing is assessed.
As you can see, it can pay you big to invest time in looking for your ancestor’s tax records! Just make sure that if you’re here in the U.S., you’ve got your own taxes out of the way before you go searching for someone else’s.
More old home movies are being digitized and more historical footage is coming online. Do you know how to integrate these with your family tree or blog? Wouldn’t it be great to show that you found great-grandpa in four censuses, the SSDI and a 1937 news reel showing him driving his fire truck? (That really did happen to me. Click here to read about it and see the footage.)
Here a few ways you can share your old family footage online:
1. If you have have a free Google account, then you have a free YouTube channel! You can upload old footage as well as movies YOU make of still images. Then you can use the Share > Embed feature to include the video on your own genealogy blogs. Click here to watch an inspiring video Lisa made about her ancestor, a nurse in training.
2. If you have Legacy Republic digitize your old family movies, you can upload them through your Legacy Republic account into your FamilySearch family tree. (Click here to watch a video about how it works.)
3. Add an online video source citation to your Ancestry tree. Create a new source in an ancestor’s individual profile. The Source Citation section asks for any URL related to this citation. Enter the URL. Then it asks whether you have media items to attach. You will be walked through the process of uploading video from your own computer. If you choose the option to record a video, Ancestry will access your computer’s microphone and camera and record you speaking for up to 12 minutes.
- Genealogy Gems Premium members can click here to access a Premium podcast and video on how to create your own family history video (learn more about Premium membership here).
- Click here to watch Lisa’s free YouTube series about blogging your family history or click here to listen to free Family History Made Easy podcast episodes about genealogy blogging (episodes 38-42).
- Learn about finding and using old film footage on YouTube and other websites in the updated-for-2015 2nd edition of The Genealogist’s Google Toolbox (there’s an entire, expanded chapter on YouTube that inspired my own find of that 1937 newsreel).
Recently I heard from David with this question:
“Because of your consistent message of starting a family blog [and] anecdotal success from listeners, I started a family history website. A blog just seemed too small…. The ultimate goal is to display the family information for my known relatives as well as create a site that will pop up on Google search results and hopefully put me in contact with new relatives.
My question is about displaying the family tree on the website. I want to have a page that shows my family tree. I did not know how to accomplish that, so I decided to include links to my ancestry and myheritage family trees. The problem with this method is that ancestry requires you to have an account to view the tree, and MyHeritage only shows you some of the family tree and requires an account to view the rest. This is not a great method to share the family tree with relatives because not everyone has, or wants, an account with these sites. Is there a website where I can upload my family tree’s GEDCOM file and then link to it on my website where it will display all the members of my tree?”
It’s always great to hear that Genealogy Gems is helping out. Congrats on the website David! I recommend blogs to my readers because they are quicker and easier to set up, but in reality I would rather recommend they create a family history website like you are doing. It’s better suited for the long haul of getting your word out and connecting with others.
You pose a great question, and so I did what I just coached everyone in my latest episode #171 to do: just Google it! What you are describing is a ‘website plugin’ so I Googled: family tree website plugin and…Ta-da! There are some out there.
I found one for Word Press (which is where I build my site) so I may have to give that one a try. However, since you are using Weebly I went back and added “weebly” to the search and there are definitely some hits there, though I’m not sure if they specifically include a visual tree plug in. Try the searches and see if you find something you like.
My friend Caroline Pointer has a YouTube video called “Build a Family History Website & Blog on Weebly.” Around the 5:50 mark she shows how she embedded family tree charts into Weebly. Looks like she used Scribd.
Keep up the great work on your family history site!
The Genealogy Gems Podcast Episodes
2008 – 2009 Season Three
Scroll to the bottom of each Podcast Show Notes Page and click the episode mp3 file to download the episode for listening. It will take a minute or two for the episode to download, and it will open in your computer’s audio program (for example: Quicktime or Windows Media Player.)
Episode 41 Listen & Show Notes
Family History Expo Wrap-Up, California Voter’s Database at Ancestry and Day of the Week Tool, Mailbox, Lulu, Valentine For You: Stories of Love
Episode 42 Listen & Show Notes
Family Tree Magazine, Genline, and another great Venice Song
Episode 43 Listen & Show Notes
Genealogy at Borders, Roots Television Interview, the new U.S. Census Bureau History Website, and Crossword Puzzle
Episode 44 Listen & Show Notes
Canadian Border Crossings, Godfrey Memorial Library, U.S. Census Bureau, and Digital Preservation Cheat Sheet
Episode 45 Listen & Show Notes
Prison stories & research, Google customization, & Free British Records
Episode 46 Listen & Show Notes
A listener’s Leatherhead, Handwriting Analysis, and Genealogy Gems Premium.
Episode 47 Listen & Show Notes
A Walk Through Childhood Memories, Family Tree and Me Displays, Girding Your Loins with James Mowatt of the Historyzine Podcast, Birthday Alarm Website, Ancestor Handwriting Analysis Winner and a new analysis of a single signature by Paula Sassi, Announcement of the NEW Family Tree Magazine hosted by Lisa Louise Cooke.
Episode 48 Listen & Show Notes
Lisa’s exclusive interview with Kathy Lennon of The Lennon Sisters. Kathy discusses her passion for family history and the Lennon family tree. Also, Paula Sassi analyzes the handwriting of our contest winner’s ancestor. Plus a new look for the Genealogy Gems Podcast Newsletter.
Episode 49 Listen & Show Notes
A great idea for genealogy societies, new Family Tree Magazine Podcast episode and Lisa’s genealogy podcasting article and videos for the magazine, Train Robbery History, Part 2 of Lisa’s interview with Kathy Lennon of the famous Lennon Sisters from the Lawrence Welk Show, Premium Discount, Handwriting Analysis opportunity and the Best Pals Contest.
Episode 50 Listen & Show Notes
The Louise Carousel, Amos Alonzo Stagg, A Little Genealogy Daydreaming with genealogy podcasters, Interview with Tim Russell of A Prairie Home Companion, America’s first radio stations, Handwriting analysis of a victim of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, State Fair History, Best Pals Dolls Winner Announcement, and Upcoming Conferences.
Episode 51 Listen & Show Notes
Interview with Jim Beidler, Chairman of the FGS 2008 Conference, The History of the Ice Cream Cone, Discount on Premium Membership, Mac Minutes with Ben Sayer, The MacGenealogist, Favorite Genealogy Sayings, Census Abbreviations.
Episode 52 Listen & Show Notes
Gems From Across the Pond: Interviews with genealogy author and lecturer Rick Crume, and British Records Specialist Dr. Christopher T. Watts, and British History Podcasts.
Episode 53 Listen & Show Notes
Virginia Halloween History, Mailbox, Navy History, Interview with Yvette Arts of World Vital Records & Search Tips, Chips the U.S. War Dog, The MacGenealogist reviews iFamily for Leopard, and Name That Tune!
Episode 54 Listen and Show Notes
New podcast launch: Family History: Genealogy Made Easy, History that puts a little cash in your pocket, Interview with the Forensic Genealogist Colleen Fitzpatrick, Some Ideas on Creating family traditions and Heirlooms, The MacGenealogist, Another Linguistic History Trivia Bit, and Name That Tune Round 2!
Episode 55 Listen and Show Notes
Genealogy News, New Google Gadgets, Discover the census records you probably aren’t using, but should with Curt Witcher of the Allen County Library, Taxing Bachelorhood, and Name That Tune Round 3!
Episode 56 Listen and Show Notes
The 2009 Genealogy Gems Christmas Podcast
Episode 57 Listen and Show Notes
Frisbee & Fuller Brush History, Southern California Genealogical Jamboree, Interview with Sally Jacobs the Practical Archivist on Photo Preservation
Episode 58 Listen and Show Notes
Review of Behind the Scenes with Ancestry, Exciting New Records Online, Income Tax History, Creating a Family History Valentine, Lisa answers Listener Questions
Episode 59 Listen and Show Notes
Review of new online records, The First U.S. Presidential Photograph, Interview with Holly Hansen of Family History Expos, GenClass with Lisa Alzo, Number Please?
Episode 60 Listen and Show Notes
We celebrate the 2nd birthday of the podcast with our special guest Darby Hinton who starred in the 1960s TV show Daniel Boone. Lisa also makes recommendations to a listener on her Bristol Brick Wall.