When the Extraordinary Session of the 45th Iowa General Assembly passed a law in March, 1934, creating
an Old Age Assistance Commission to oversee the care of the State's needy
aged, the result was the creation of records of immense value to genealogists.
Old Age Assistance was to be provided to indigent applicants who were over sixty-five years of age and who did not have any responsible relative capable of caring for them. To create a fund, a head tax of $1.00 the first year and $2.00 annually thereafter was to be collected
from all persons over twenty-one years old. The law provided that each assessor, at the time of listing property for assessment, was to prepare a list and return it to the county auditor
with the names of those subject to the new tax.
The names of those to be taxed were recorded by assessors on their regular rounds.
The information to be gathered was name, sex, date of birth [ many predating the keeping of vital records in
Iowa ], place of birth, father's name, mother's maiden name, county, P.O. address, and township or street address. Headings in some booklets specifically requested month, day and year of birth, color and employer, if any. The law was repealed in 1937 so that the record period for existing Old Age Assistance Tax lists is only for the years
The assessor did not determine who, was eligible for benefits. This was done by filing an
application with the county Old Age Assistance boards. The lists, therefore, contain the names of a great many persons over the age of sixty-five, some of whom later received benefits under the law.
Old Age Assistance Tax lists have survived in many of Iowa's 99 counties. Where the original booklets no longer exist, some counties have card files created from the booklets before they were discarded. Unfortunately some counties have neither.
As with all records, information found in Iowa's Old Age Assistance Records should be carefully compared with other available records:
marriages, births, deaths, census and probate to name but a few.
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