Tax & Assessment Records
These provide aggregate data and a nice way to get a picture of the entire community at a certain point in time. Complete assessments for Lexington survive only for the years 1729, 1744, 1774, and 1780. Different information is gathered for different assessments, and some inaccuracy has to be accepted. Still, the aggregate picture reveals much about economic status. In addition to tax assessments, towns usually completed a provincial “valuation” once every seven years, based on land holdings, buildings, livestock, and household moveable goods. You can find surviving tax assessments in your town’s historic records at the town assessor’s office. For Lexington, complete valuations survive for 1735 and 1771. Historian Bettye Hobbs Pruitt compiled and published all the surviving 1771 valuations and the volume, The Massachusetts Tax Valuation List is available in many town libraries.
For definition of tax terms, see Terminology.