Blog Post — Xie

I first noticed that the Orange County List 1875 is preserved in a relatively good condition. Unlike some counties that have suffered from many court house fire and as a result lost track of their tax records, this tax list is maintained in a good condition – it’s easy to read the headline, column headings and contents in each column. 

The column headings of the Orange County Tax List 1875 show detailed information about what items were taxable in 1875. It’s very interesting to look at the column headings, which give me some basic understanding what properties were usually owned during that time. Since the orange County was basically agricultural-oriented, there is no surprise to find out that under the personal property column, a list of living animals is stated: horses, cattles, goats, sheeps, etc. Animals can be seen as a measurement to weigh one’s wealth and financial status. In the tax list, some households, especial those that have lands, would relatively have more animal properties, like horses and cattles. It’s also interesting to figure out the general values of personal properties at that time based on the tax list. For instance, the value of animals is listed in the tax list. In page 130, Linus(?) R.M. owned one horse that worth 50 dollars. And as I found in one news article called “The history of What Things Cost in America: 1776 to Today“, one dollar at that time could buy one pair of shoes or an opera ticket for “The Marriage of Figaro.” 

I am very interested to see what the difference between the tax records that was made in 1875 and the tax records we use right now as it shows how law and regulation have changed over time and how it effects everyday life of ordinary people. I looked into the State Library of North Carolina: Tax Records in North Carolina. From this website, I have learnt some interesting facts about tax records. Some columns are no longer considered taxable or abolished. For instance, poll taxes were appeared in the 1875 tax list. Since 1715, North Carolina has passed several laws regarding poll taxes and who is to be taxes. Normally, all males or the lead of the household (if you are a widow) that were age 16 or older were taxable. Under the 1875 tax list, we can see that those who were age between 21 and 50 were taxable.  However, after 1970, poll taxes in North Carolina were abolished.  I would like to dig more on this topic and see what I can found out. But I also noticed that it’s really difficult for me to read the names written in cursive. I could tell some of the names only by chance, which is frustrating me right now. 

One Reply to “Blog Post — Xie”

  1. Kira, you offer a helpful close reading of the 1875 tax document. I really like how you dig into other resources to make sense of what you observe in the document itself. In future occasions, you can make use of the other archival materials from the library. I support your interest in a comparison between tax documents across times. It might be more efficient, if you focus on a shorter time interval rather than centuries apart. Like you are interested in poll taxes, it is always helpful to narrow your focus down on to something, while keeping class, race and gender relations in mind.

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