Philadelphia Information Locator Service
Agency Information

City Tax Assessors

[Record group 93]
Alternative/Former Names
Wardens (of Lighting and Watch)
Street Commissioners
City Tax Collectors
City Commissioners
Board of County Commissioners

Agency Function
These agencies no longer exist. Their functions have been assumed by numerous agencies in the present city government.

Agency History
By an Act of November 27, 1700 the Provincial Governor was empowered to grant to chosen commissioners the authority to regulate and repair the City's streets and bridges, to assess and levy a tax for those purposes, and to appoint the tax's collectors and receivers. An Act of 1712 provided for the annual popular election of six City Assessors who, in conjunction with the officers of the Corporation, were to perform the same functions and to appoint the City Treasurer. Two Acts of 1762 directed the assessors and the Corporation to appoint commissioners of the streets with whom they were to contract for their maintenance and who were to share in the assessment process and in the appointment of tax collectors. The elective assessors were abolished by an Act of 1780 and their powers transferred to the streets commissioners who continued to appoint assessors for each ward and who, along with the wardens of lighting and the watch (created by an Act of 1750), remained the chief vestige of City government while the Corporation was suspended during the years 1776-1789. At the City's reincorporation in the latter year the commissioners' and wardens' powers were transferred to it. A Board of City Commissioners was established immediately, however (its positions filled by City Councils until 1799; the Mayor then appointed them until 1839 when that power was restored to Councils), with functions in regard to lighting and watching, City property, wells, pumps, and many similar housekeeping duties. They also appointed tax collectors, a function transferred to the Mayor in 1811 and to Councils in 1839. An Act of 1795 reestablished elective City assessors. With the first steps toward the organization of a full-scale police force in 1833 the watchmen and lamp lighters were transferred from the control of the Commissioners to that of the Police. The office of City Tax Collector was reduced to that of clerk in the then-established office of the Receiver of Taxes, when, in 1854, the City and County were consolidated. The City Commissioners retained all other functions, acquired those of the then-abolished County Commissioners, and were designated County officers, although retaining their original title of City Commissioners. As such, their records from that date must be considered County records and are cataloged with those of the County Commissioners.

Archival Records
93.1 City Tax Duplicate (1791-1834)

93.2 Registered Taxes (1824-1853)

93.3 Paving and Cleaning, Journal of Charges (1852-1857)

93.4 Enumeration index, 3rd Ward, 3rd Precinct (1854)

93.5 Wardens of Lighting and the Watch. Minutes (7 October 1771 - 15 August 1781)

93.6 Wardens of Lighting and the Watch. Accounts Ledger (November 1784 - May 1787)

93.7 Streets Commissioners. Minutes (25 December 1765 - 8 September 1768, 14 July 1770 - 17 September 1772, 30 October 1778 - 28 December 1781, 27 June 1788- 8 March 1790)

93.8 City Commissioners. Minutes (3 June 1789 - 8 March 1790)

93.9 Board of County Commissioners. The Juvenile Court and House of Detention (1908)


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Last updated on July 9, 1999