Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tax Records Online

Like it or not, this is the time of year our thoughts turn to taxes. But it may not be all bad, when we stop to consider our forbears, also, paid taxes. In her article, "Tax Records Online," Gena Philibert-Ortega has put together a partial list of tax records -- mostly free -- accessible online. As the article points out, tax records won't give you a lot of detailed information, but they do provide one more way to pinpoint your ancestors in time and place, and may suggest other family members living nearby. Where the census was taken in ten-year increments, many tax records were taken annually, and tax records for the years before the census began can be especially useful.

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ancestry launches California Voter Registration Lists, 1900 -1944

In a press release today, announced the launch of California Voter Registration Lists documenting more than 30 million names of Californians who registered to vote between 1900 and 1944. The collection, now searchable for the first time online, comes just prior to Super Tuesday, one of the most significant milestones in the 2008 race to the White House.

The unique collection reveals the political persuasions of California residents -- including famous celebrities who registered to vote during the first half of the 1900s. The collection also documents the voter's name, occupation, gender, age, street address, voting district, and city and county of residence. Many of the earliest voter registrations include detailed physical descriptions of the register and even naturalization information. Because the lists were updated every two years, the collection enables users to track their ancestors through time and serves as a valuable replacement for census records since California did not take state censuses.

"Peeking into the political preferences of our ancestors and celebrities is fascinating," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for "Very few historical records actually reveal the opinions of our ancestors. With this collection of voter registrations, someone with California family ties can discover the political black sheep in the family or which ancestor changed their family's party affiliation forever."

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Forgotten Records of the Civil War

While we may all sing the woes of taxation -- and it has been historically so -- early tax lists are a valuable resource, locating people in time and place who, in many case, might not be found otherwise. In her article, "Forgotten Records: Tapping the Power of Civil War Income Tax Records," Melissa Slate sheds light early income tax records, some of which survive. As noted in the article, many such lost or forgotten records exist, it is through the efforts of earnest researchers that such records rise to the surface, to the benefit of all.

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