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Friday, August 6, 2010

A Dictionary Can Be Your Best Friend

Marlene asked the following question: 
I was searching tax lists for Berks county Pennsylvania for the year 1785 and at the end of each township was a list of inmates and list of single men. I thought a inmate was a single man. What is the difference?
ASK OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Marlene, any dictionary (offline or online using a Search Engine) will provide you with a generic definition of the word "inmate".

However in this case, more specifically, an inmate is a resident in some type of institution - usually a prison or an orphanage or an asylum/hospital of some sort. It has nothing to do with marital status

1 comment:

  1. Actually, in this case an "inmate" is "a married or widowed, landless individual (man) who may own taxable property" (like a horse), not a resident of an institution. Pennsylvania tax records usually divided men into landholders (by deed or lease), freeman (single men), and inmates.