Tax records can be particularly valuable when researching your genealogy because they offer greater detail about individuals and their property than is typically shown on the U.S. Census. These records can be used to help determine parentage, information about slavery and indentured servitude, birth and death, manumission, as well as racial status (as defined at that time). A recent post to the Genealogy and Family History Blog entitled “Taxation Can be A Good Thing,” Carolyn Barkley gives some tips and an in-depth example of how you can use tax lists in doing genealogy. Barkley also offers a basic description of the types of tax records you may be able to find:
“Taxes are levied at all levels of government, federal, state, county, and locality and take many forms including tithables/poll tax, land taxes, personal property taxes, licenses (e.g., ordinaries and taverns) and include lists of delinquent or insolvent tax payers. Tax lists often predate census enumerations and cast a wider net. Poll taxes are particularly useful in that all adult males were included, whether they owned land or not. In states where early census lists have been lost, these tithables lists have been used as census substitutes.”
The North Carolina Room has a number of books documenting early tax records in the state and region, as well as Cornelius Carroll’s book The Beginner’s Guide to Using Tax Lists. Search for these and more using the Forsyth County Public Library catalog.