Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records (FamilySearch Historical Records)

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Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918 .
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This article describes a collection of records at FamilySearch.org.
Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States
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Location of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts
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Location of Massachusetts
Record Description
Record Type Tax Records
Collection years 1822-1918
FamilySearch Resources
Related Websites



What is in the Collection?

This collection contains tax records, transfer books, tax books, and assessor's lists from the Boston City Archives. The records in this collection cover the years 1822 to 1918. (Parallel tax book series for years before 1822 when Boston was incorporated as a City, are at the Boston Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.)

You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918.

Collection Content

Sample Images

Genealogical information in tax records includes:

  • Legal description of real and personal property
  • Names and ages of property owners and possible relationships
  • Time periods when families resided in Ohio
  • Occupation of the property owner
  • Places of residence
  • Names of other relatives
  • Additional information associated with the property

How Do I Search the Collection?

To begin your search it is helpful to know the following:

  • Name
  • Residence

View images in this collection by visiting the Browse Page:
To search the collection you will need to follow this series of links:
⇒Select "Browse through images" on the initial collection page
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Category"
⇒Select the appropriate "Record Type, Year Range, and Volume" which takes you to the images.

Look at each image comparing the information with what you already know about your ancestors to determine if the image relates to them. You may need to look at several images and compare the information about the individuals listed in those images to your ancestors to make this determination. Keep in mind:

  • There may be more than one person in the records with the same name.
  • You may not be sure of your own ancestor’s name.
  • Your ancestor may have used different names or variations of their name throughout their life.

I Found Who I was Looking for, What Now?

When you have located your ancestor in the assessment rolls, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may be new details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. For example:

  • Tax assessments identify the name and residence of the taxpayer. This information can help you locate land records and census records.
  • The description of the real estate, number of acres owned, types of buildings, identifiable personal property, and the farm animals can help you determine an occupation: someone living at a church is probably a minister; someone with several acres of land or many farm animals is probably a farmer; someone living on the same property as the school may be a teacher; someone living above or behind a store is probably a merchant.
  • Known occupations can lead you to other types of records such as employment, school, or church records.
  • Following an ancestor through the assessment rolls can help you establish a family migration pattern or identify the year an individual moved into an area or left the area.
  • The assessment rolls can also indicate that an individual died. Use the last known tax year as an approximate death year. Use the death year and residence to locate death or probate records.

Tips to Keep in Mind

  • It is often helpful to extract the information on all individuals with the same surname in the same general area. If the surname is uncommon, it is likely that those living in the same area were related.
  • Other family members may have lived nearby so you may want to search an entire town, neighboring towns, or even a county.
  • Additional searches may be needed to locate all members of a particular family in the assessment rolls.

I Can't Find Who I'm Looking for, What Now?

  • Look for variant spellings of the surnames.
  • Look for an index. There are often indexes at the beginning of each volume. Local genealogical and historical societies often have indexes to local records.
  • Search the indexes and records of nearby localities.

General Information About These Records

Tax records are based on the property owned by people. Only the person who owned the taxable property was listed on the tax record; other residents, living on the property, were not listed.

Tax records are considered a primary source. They are usually reliable because they are kept by the county clerk in the local courthouse, who usually recorded the event at or very near the time it occurred.

The information given in town land records is generally reliable, although there may be errors made in transcribing the town’s copy from the original deed.

Boston Massachusetts genealogy
For a guide to these records see:
Boston Tax and Assessor's Records


Citing this Collection

When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information; that is, cite your sources. This will help people find the record again and evaluate the reliability of the source. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records. Citations are available for the collection as a whole and each record or image individually.

Collection Citation:

"Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918." Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : accessed 2016. City of Boston Archives, West Roxbury.

Image Citation:

The image citation is available by clicking on the Information tab at the bottom left of the screen. You can browse through images in this collection by visiting the browse page for Massachusetts, Boston Tax Records, 1822-1918.

How You Can Contribute

We welcome user additions to FamilySearch Historical Records wiki articles. We are looking for additional information that will help readers understand the topic and better use the available records. We also need translations for collection titles and images in articles about records written in languages other than English. For specific needs, please visit WikiProject FamilySearch Records.

Please follow these guidelines as you make changes. Thank you for any contributions you may provide.