Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What Was Your Ancestor's Property Worth?

Genealogists often find references to money in old deeds and other documents. Even U.S. census records frequently recorded estimates of a person's real estate. The natural question is, "I wonder what that would equal in today's dollars?" There is a Web site that can answer this question.
S. Morgan Friedman's Inflation Calculator can convert a U.S. dollar amount for any year from 1800 through 2001 into the equivalent amount, adjusted for inflation, in any other year of that range. In other words, if you find that your ancestor purchased land for $400 in 1805, the Inflation Calculator will tell you that the money he spent is equivalent to a purchase of $5735.65 in 2010. 

The Inflation Calculator only goes up to the year 2010, the last year for which inflation statistics are available. This should be sufficient for genealogy purposes. The pre-1975 data comes from the Consumer Price Index statistics published in the Historical Statistics of the United States (USGPO, 1975). All data since then is from the annual Statistical Abstracts of the United States. You can access the Inflation Calculator at:

The following article is from Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and is copyright 2012 by Richard W. Eastman. It is re-published here with the permission of the author.