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Tax record book offers window to 18th-century Dover

The Dover Historical Society recently added a rare document to its collection of town artifacts.

The society announced it has acquired an 18th-century tax record book for the fourth Precinct of Dedham, the area that is now Dover. The 150-page handwritten document, which the society purchased from Dan Cassavant Rare Books, lists real estate, personal property, and poll taxes paid by local residents from 1755 to 1773.

Museum officials said the book may be the only remaining copy of the records since many of Dover’s early records are believed to have been destroyed. They said the tax pages are also significant because they help document when people moved in or out of town, when they died, and their relative wealth.


The find comes at a time when the society’s two museums, the Caryl Farm and the Sawin Museum, are temporarily closed due to COVID-19. “This was essentially a once-in-a lifetime opportunity and was funded entirely through the generosity of board members,” society president Elisha Lee said in a statement.

John Laidler can be reached at laidler@globe.com.