California Great Registers (FamilySearch Historical Records)Edit This Page
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|This article describes a collection of historical records available at FamilySearch.org.|
Access the records: California Great Registers, 1866-1910 .
This Collection will include records from 1866 to 1910.
The collection consists of County Clerk voting registers from most counties in California. The registers were created every other year. The time period varies by county. Those records without a specifc registration year, will have a "Registration Date Year Range." For these records, the "Event Date" is the median year.
The first voter registration records were county poll lists. In 1866, poll lists were replaced by voter registers known as the Great Registers. Each voter was required to register with the county clerk. 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.
Citation for This Collection
The following citation refers to the original source of the information published in FamilySearch.org Historical Records collections. Sources include the author, custodian, publisher, and archive for the original records.
- California County Clerks. California Great Registers. California State Archives, Sacramento, California.
The registers are arranged in columns and give the following information:
- Full name of each voter (only men could vote)
- State or country of birth
- If naturalized, he was to declare the name of the court and the date when the naturalization took place
How to Use the Record
Fill in the requested information in the initial search page. This search will return a list of possible matches. Compare the information about the ancestors in the list to what you already know about your ancestors to determine if this is the correct family or person. You may need to compare the information about more than one person to find your ancestor.
The electoral registers may help you determine the residence of an individual and how long that person lived there. They may also help you locate other records in which that person might appear.
To begin your search you will need to know the following:
- Name of the ancestor
When you have located your ancestor’s record, carefully evaluate each piece of information given. These pieces of information may give you new biographical details that can lead you to other records about your ancestors. Add this new information to your records of each family. You may also find the following tips helpful:
- Use the name, residence and are or birth date to locate your ancestor in church, land, and census records.
- Use ages to determine approximate birth dates.
- Use the naturalization information to find their immigration and naturalization court documents.
- Information on occupations could lead you to employer's or other related records, such as business office or military records.
- Search for records of people in the county who shared a surname. These may have been the couple’s parents, uncles, or other relatives.
- When looking for a person who had a common name, look at all the entries for the name before deciding which is correct.
Keep in mind:
- Some counties were subdivided or the boundaries may have changed. Consider searching neighboring counties as well since that courthouse may have been more convenient for the person.
- The information in voter registrations in usually very brief so it is easy to confuse individuals with similar names.
- Only men were allowed to vote.
If you are unable to find the ancestors you are looking for, try the following:
- Check for variant spellings of the surnames.
- Check for indexes.
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Contributions to This Article
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Citing FamilySearch Historical Collections
When you copy information from a record, you should list where you found the information. This will help you or others to find the record again. It is also good to keep track of records where you did not find information, including the names of the people you looked for in the records.
A suggested format for keeping track of records that you have searched is found in the Wiki Article: How to Cite FamilySearch Collections.
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