Thursday, January 31, 2008

California Voter Registration Lists - 1900 to 1944 just added California Voter Registration Lists to their databases. The announcement is on their web site at The highlights include:

", the largest online resource for family history, today announced the launch of California Voter Registration Lists documenting more than 30 million names of Californians who registered to vote between 1900 and 1944...

"The unique collection reveals the political persuasions of California residents -- including famous celebrities who registered to vote during the first half of the 1900s. The collection also documents the voter's name, occupation, gender, age, street address, voting district, and city and county of residence. Many of the earliest voter registrations include detailed physical descriptions of the register and even naturalization information. Because the lists were updated every two years, the collection enables users to track their ancestors through time and serves as a valuable replacement for census records since California did not take state censuses."

Naturally, I had to try it out. The database summary page is here. There must be many people trying it out because there were many "Check Back soon" messages when I just searched on a surname.

When I searched on a specific name, e.g., Lyle Carringer, I got matches for my grandparents and great-grandparents, and even my mother in 1942. The views below are from 1908, 1924 and 1942.




As you can see, they list the name, the address, the occupation (sometimes pretty general) and the political party. The description says that they list age, but I haven't seen any that do. The lists are alphabetical by precinct so you can see all of the neighbors too.

They do not have every year in the database. For San Diego County, it appears they have 1900-1906, 1908-1912, 1914, 1916, 1918, 1920, 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1930, 1932, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1942 and 1944. Those match election years, which makes sense. Each county has its own set of voter registration lists. You can select a county from the database main page, but then you have to scroll through the pages.

These Voter Registration Lists are almost as valuable as City Directories, in my opinion. They provide an occupation and a residence location over time. There are no City Directories online that cover such a wide span of time. However, these Voter Lists don't include every adult resident, since some people did not register to vote. Some of my family were not on some of the registration lists. The early years don't include women since they didn't get the vote in California until 1911.

Were my ancestors Democrats or Republicans, or something else? I've always been curious about their political persuasion, especially during the Depression. I checked great-great-grandmother Abbie Smith (Prohibition), great-grandparents Charles and Georgia Auble (Republicans), great-grandparents Henry Austin and Della Carringer (Republicans), grandparents Lyle and Emily Carringer (Republicans) and my mother Betty Carringer (Democrat in 1942 as a student - actually a teacher!). My father, Fred Seaver, came to San Diego in 1940 and married mym other in 1942, but he isn't listed in this database (records go up to 1944).

This database will be very helpful to all researchers with California families in the 20th century.

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