California Voting Registers

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California voter registration records can help you locate most male citizens between the years of the federal censuses. The first voter registration records were county poll lists. Although poll lists were required by law after 1850, the earliest records are incomplete.

In 1866, poll lists were replaced by voter registers known as the Great Registers. Each voter was required to register with the county clerk, giving his full name, age, state or country of birth, occupation, and address. If naturalized, he was to declare the name of the court and the date when the naturalization took place. An 1872 law required all counties to print an alphabetical list of voters every two years. Since 1895, data on voters has been more detailed.

All but a few of the Great Registers are available at the California Section of the California State Library in Sacramento. Duplicate copies are at the Bancroft Library at the University of California in Berkeley, and also in county courthouses. Most are on microfilm at the Family History Library. For example, for San Francisco the library has 190 films that include the:

  • Great Registers, 1866-1898
  • Indexes, 1866, 1888-1904
  • Index of naturalized voters, 1850-1898

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