Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finding tax lists=Frustration

I've ranted before about some of the problems of long-distance genealogy. You know, when your family history takes you everywhere but the state you're currently living in. When that happens, you have to rely on published resources, the internet, FHL microfilms, kindly librarians, volunteers, and employees, the luck of the Irish (LOL), and if all else fails, paid researchers. I've had a fair amount of luck doing basic record retrieval using all of the above, however once you venture out of the realm of the ordinary (ie. your basic birth, marriage, and death info) things start to get a bit more tricky. It becomes harder and harder to gain access to what you need. There are some locations with wonderful historical and genealogical societies with hard-working members who spend countless hours to transcribe, abstract, and index all kinds of useful genealogical information. Yes, while you shouldn't necessarily rely upon the work of others since human error is always a possibility, these local reference works are a goldmine because at the very least they will give you the location of the records that you need so that you can order copies without having to pay someone for the retrieval. Without the location, for instance which Will Book or Grantee index number, the court employees won't give you the time of day over the telephone. I've found quite a few published references for various New Hampshire counties especially helpful. Even with these great resources available though, tax lists still seem to be falling through the cracks. It's really frustrating to me because tax lists can be one of the best resources for locating individuals and figuring their ages and relationships prior to 1850 when only the head of the household is listed on census schedules. Somehow, these records seem to get ignored by transcribers, often in favor of what they feel are more important vital records. I understand that feeling, however, what do you do when you get past the point of civil registration and you have to start piecing things together to build a case for a familial relationship? Those tax lists start looking awfully attractive at that point. Just a bit of a rant and piece of mind for today. Rant Off.

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