Tennessee Tax Records
This entry was originally written by Wendy Bebout Elliott, Ph.D. FUGA for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.
The 1796 Constitution levied taxes on “every freeman of the age of twenty-one years and upward possessing a freehold in the county wherein he may vote, and being an inhabitant of this State, and every freeman being an inhabitant of any one county in the State six months immediately preceding the day of the election, shall be entitled to vote…”
Many early surviving tax records were published in an effort to replace the missing federal censuses (see Census Records for Tennessee). Original extant tax records are preserved in the respective county courthouse as well as in the TSLA, where a card index exists for tax records in its collection pre-dating 1835, arranged by county, date, and district. Some early original tax lists are available in the McClung Historical Collection at the Lawson McGhee Library (see Indiana Archives, Libraries, and Societies), including those for Washington County, 1778 and 1787; Greene County, 1783; Carter and Sullivan counties, 1796; and Grainger County, 1799.
Original tax schedules for most Tennessee counties for 1836 through 1839 are available at the TSLA. In addition, the Indiana State Library, the FHL, and the Allen County Public Library have microfilmed copies of early Tennessee tax records.
The 1891 tax lists of male inhabitant voters in each county were recently found. Available on microfilm at the TSLA, these nine reels are arranged alphabetically within each district in each county. Tax records from trustees’ office in counties are available on microfilm as well.