ledger

Introduction

In 1788 an act was put in place that required the Overseers of the Poor in each town to obtain a book to record the names of each town pauper and the nature of their relief. The law stated, “The overseers of the poor of each respective city or town within this State, shall procure, at the public charge, a book of good paper and well bound, wherein the names of all poor persons applying for relief and being ordered to be relieved as aforesaid, shall be registered, with the day and year when they were first admitted to have relief, the weekly or other sum or sums of money allowed by the order for their relief, and the cause of such necessity.

In 2014, the New Paltz Town Ledger was rediscovered and brought to light. The Town Historian along with SUNY New Paltz interns transcribed and published its contents in this exhibit. The ledger documents the poor relief for the town of New Paltz from 1805 to 1823. It documents the names of the poor, the reason they were impoverished, and the amount of relief given. Paupers are often given a weekly allowance for a period of time and in some occasions paupers were bound out placed in other people's homes. The ledger also documents the auditing of the Overseers of the Poor’s accounts.

Inflation rates are as follows:

$1.00 in 1805 = $20.41 in 2015

$1.00 in 1810 = $19.61 in 2015

$1.00 in 1815 = $15.63 in 2015

$1.00 in 1820 = $20.41 in 2015

View this ledger and transcription

The following is a statistical analysis of the information found on the Overseer of the Poor Ledger:

Gender

Number

Percentage

Male

35

50%

Female

34

48.6%

N/A

1

1.4%

 

Race

Number

Percentage

Black

11

15.7%

N/A

59

84.3%

Total receiving relief

70

 

 

Causes

Number

Percentage

Indigent

13

18.1%

Sickness

3

4.2%

Sick and indigent

4

5.6%

Sick, lame, and indigent

1

1.4%

Pauper/Poor person

11

15.3%

Pauper and sick

1

1.4%

Poor and indigent

9

12.5%

Lameness

1

1.4%

Old age/sickness

1

1.4%

Sickness, fits, and non-compos

1

1.4%

Blind

1

1.4%

Old, Sick, Lame

1

1.4%

Infancy and indigent

1

1.4%

Indigent and broken leg

1

1.4%

Poor and lame

1

1.4%

Unlisted

22

30.6%

Total causes for relief

72*

 

 

*Two individuals were listed on two separate occasions

 

 

Single or with Family Member

Number

Percentage

Single

30

42.9%

Family

40

57.1%

Total

70

 

 

Children

Number

Percentage

Under 14

14

20%

Age N/A

9

12.9%

Total number of children

23

32.9%