Archives Guide ~ Assessing Department (2100)

Historical note

Section 15 of Chapter 110 of the Acts of 1821, “An Act Establishing the City of Boston,” provided the City Council with the power to assess taxes. The same section provided for the election by the City Council, Mayor and Alderman, or by the citizens of Assessors and Assistant Assessors. Prior to 1854, the Assessors were located within the Treasury Department. Assessors, as well as, Assistant Assessors were chosen by concurrent vote of the City Council until 1885. In 1885, the power to appoint Assessors was transferred to the Mayor subject to confirmation by the Board of Aldermen. Chapter 93 of the Special Acts of 1918 reorganized the Assessing Department and created a Board of three Assessors appointed by the Mayor and subject to his removal.

The Assessing Department operates under the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Assessing and is divided into three programs: Tax Administration, Valuation, and Abatement. The Department determines the fair cash value and classification of all real and personal property located in the city. The department maintains official maps, property description data, ownership records and assessment, abatement and exemption records.



2100.001 Proceedings of Board of Assessors 1837-1956 with gaps 43 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Minutes of the Board of Assessors which record the actions of the Board relating to abatements, exemptions, legal questions, the appointment of assessors, etc. Volumes for 1901-1956 are indexed. The volume for 1928-1929 is missing.


2100.002 Proceedings of Dooming Board 1869-1950 with gaps 23 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Minutes of the Dooming Board for the years 1869-1901, 1946-1947 and 1949-1950. Includes the individual or company being assessed a tax on their personal property, the original assessment, and the revised assessment.


2100.003 Correspondence 1894-1910 5 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Incoming and outgoing correspondence of the Assessing Department. Includes mayoral circulars.


2100.004 Real estate, personal estate and poll tax records 1822-1985 approximately 2950 linear feet

Scope and Contents note
Records of taxes assessed for real estate, personal estate and poll taxes. Includes real estate valuations, 1822-1973; personal estate valuations, 1822-1985; and poll tax assessments, circa 1822-1963. The assessment of poll taxes was abolished in 1963.


2100.005 Abatements 1819-1985 363 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Records of abatement of real estate, personal estate and poll taxes. The majority of the volumes are registers including names, assessed amounts, amount abated, and reason for the abatement. Also includes certificates of abatement, applications and petitions.


2100.006 List of women returned by the Assessors circa 1880-1890 80 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Lists of women's names and addresses arranged by ward and precinct.


2100.007 Board of Street Commissioners notices circa 1894-1917 17 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Notices of apportionment and revision of assessments for street improvements, street watering and sewerage works.


2100.008 Gypsy Moth Assessments 1902-1912 7 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Records documenting the assessment for the suppression of gypsy moths. Arranged by street these volumes contain the address, name of resident, date summons was mailed, the amount of tax and the date paid of assessments for work done toward the eradication of gypsy moths. Also includes recommendations from the Parks Commissioner and Department of Public Grounds for abatement of assessments for the suppression of gypsy and brown tail moths.



2100.009 Schedule of Trusts 1868-1870 4 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Volumes containing forms recording the names and addresses of Trustees, Guardians or Executors, and the name of the trust. Includes value of money, interests, and debts owed to the trust; cash on hand; annuities, vessels and parts of vessels, horses and vehicles, furniture exceeding $1000 value; shares in banks; public stocks, railroad bonds, and securities; and other personal property.


2100.010 Record of Trustees 1920 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Includes a list of trustees and their addresses, who or what they were trustees of, their address, and the value of and items held in trust.


2100.011 Exemptions 1935-1985 with gaps 144 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Lists of exempt properties arranged by clause and by ward/parcel. Exempt properties include properties owned by the City, State, or Federal government or various charitable and religious organizations. These volumes list the addresses, owners of the property and the valuation.



2100.012 Applications for exemptions circa 1911-1921 1 record carton

Scope and Contents note
Applications for exemptions from taxes completed by individuals.



2100.013 Veterans applications 1944-1947 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Under Chapter 12 of the Acts of 1943, individuals serving in the military could apply for a temporary exemption from real and personal estate taxes. Includes one volume of applications for exemption from 1944-1947.


2100.014 Scrapbook of Advertisements of Property Auctions and Sales 1872 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Scrapbook of George A. Comins, Real Estate and Mortgage Broker of news clippings of property auctions and sales. Includes some mentions of the "Burnt District".


2100.015 Betterments 1868-1908 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Includes one volume of betterments assessed to properties whose value benefitted from public works projects such as the widening or paving of streets, 1868-1908.



2100.016 Plans circa 1918-1985 36 flat file drawers

Scope and Contents note
Large format plans arranged by ward number and block. Includes the block numbers, street names, plot dimensions, and building footprints. These plans were used for reference purposes only.


2100.017 Surveyor plans 1877 3 record cartons

Scope and Contents note
In November of 1876, the Board of Assessors requested an appropriation of $1500 for the purpose of causing the preparation of a set of reduced copies, on tracing cloth, of surveyors' plans of estates, to be used in street and office work in the Assessors' Department. Includes
copies of surveyor plans, arranged by neighborhood, which were drawn circa 1856-1877.



2100.018 Returns of Corporations 1865-1875 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
In accordance with Chapter 283 of the Acts of 1865, the Assessors made returns of corporations located in the City of Boston or owning real estate in the City of Boston with a statement in detail of the value of works, structures, real estate and machinery and amount of taxes assessed. Includes one volume of returns for 1865-1875.


2100.019 Stock book 1857 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
One volume labeled "Stock Book" which lists names, number of shares, company and cash value.


2100.020 Foreign shareholders tax books 1868-1871 4 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Record of taxes assessed on foreign shareholders of banks in Boston. Includes owner, registered, shares, taxable value, total value and tax.



2100.021 Payroll 1888-1899 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Payroll of the Assessing Department. Includes name, position and pay.


2100.022 Annual reports and publications 1838-1989 21 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes copies of Annual Reports of the Assessing Department for the years 1894, 1921, 1923-1924, 1926-1937, 1941, 1943, 1945 and 1981; List of Persons, Copartnerships and Corporations Who were Taxed Twenty-five Dollars and Upwards in the City of Boston in 1838; List of Persons, Copartnerships and Corporations Who were Taxed Twenty-five Dollars and Upwards in the City of Boston in 1842; Boston's Tax Rate for 1926; Rules of Procedure in the Abatement of Taxes, 1940; User's Manual for the Equalization of Boston Assessments, 1979; Annual Report of the Tax-Exempt Property Steering Committee, 1988-1989. Annual reports can also be found in the City Documents series.



2100.023 Photographs 1983 2 flat boxes

Scope and Contents note
Collection of aerial photographs of Boston from 1983.