During a recent cataloging project, what at first seemed like a standard exercise revealed a nice surprise. From its exterior, the Halifax County (Va.) Capitation and Personal Property Tax Ledger, 1861, had all of the makings of an ordinary volume of county taxes. This was certainly true in 1861 when it was originally created. Each page lists the names of individuals along with details of how much capitation tax (a head or poll tax levied on individuals at a fixed rate) and personal property tax was owed, along with details about what kind of personal property was being taxed (for example–furniture, watches, plate, carriages, money, livestock, and slaves).
At some point, however, someone, or more likely several someones, used a little more than half of the volume as a scrapbook. Pasted over the original document pages are a wide variety of clippings from magazines and newspapers. The clippings are primarily images; although some poems are included as well as short articles about artists and writers and a biography of British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone written on the occasion of his death in 1898. The subjects of the scrapbook are related to Biblical scenes, European royalty, Napoleon, American founding families such as the Jeffersons and Washingtons, travel, pets, artists and writers, poetry, and reproductions of paintings, drawings, and photographs with artistic themes.
A note … read more »