Pennsylvania Tax Records

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This entry was originally written by Roger D. Joslyn, CG, FUGA, FGBS, FASG in Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

Late eighteenth-century state tax records for various counties, covering 1765 to 1791, were published in Pennsylvania Archives, 3d series, vols. 11-32; some of these lists were reprinted by Family Line Publications of Westminster, Maryland (now Heritage Books). The 1781 tax list for Washington County in volume 22 of the Pennsylvania Archives was actually taken in 1782 (see Jane M. Fulcher and Raymond Martin Bell, “Washington County, Pennsylvania Intestate Records, 1789–1806,” The Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine 31 [1979]: 51).

John “D” Stemmons and E. Diane Stemmons, comps., Pennsylvania in 1780 (Salt Lake City: the compilers, 1978) indexes 1779 and 1780 tax lists published in the Pennsylvania Archives, 3d series, volumes 12-18 and 20-22, as well as unpublished lists for Northampton County 1780 and Westmoreland County (Connecticut, not Pennsylvania), 1776-80. An addendum to the Stemmons’ work added lists for other counties, mostly for 1783.

Among the few surviving 1798 U.S. Direct Tax lists are those for Pennsylvania. They were microfilmed by the National Archives and are available at the Mid-Atlantic Region in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania State Archives, and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Indexes have been published for several counties and those for western counties have been published. Some of the lists for Berks and Chester counties are missing.

Tax records are typically found in the county tax assessment offices but may also be in the county commissioners’ office or with the prothonotary. The state archives has microfilms for some of these records (1715–1930s), and those of early lists for the western counties of Bedford, Crawford, Fayette, Washington, and others are at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Some assessment records have found their way into manuscript collections of county historical societies, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, and the state archives, as well as the Philadelphia City Archives.

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