Voter Registration Records and Genealogy
While researching your genealogy, voter registration records may not be the first resource that springs to mind. However, you’d be surprised how this often overlooked resource can help supplement your research and provide you with clues in new directions. As you build your family tree on Geni, you may want to take time to look into what you can find about your ancestor’s voting history.
Important things to keep in mind:
In the United States, all registered voters must be a citizen. Remember that early in U.S. history, there were many restrictions that prevented people from voting, therefore limiting the demographic of eligible voters to white male citizens. In 1870, the passing of the 15th Amendment prohibited the government from denying the right to vote to a citizen based on race, color or previous status of slavery. This granted African-American males the right to vote. And it was not until the passing of the 19th Amendment in 1920 that women were finally given the right to vote.
Information you may find:
- Date of birth
- Place of residence
- Possibly naturalization information
- Marital status
- Indication if they owned any land
Finding your ancestor’s address in their voter registration record is especially helpful to track their location in between census records. Also, naturalization information may include the date of naturalization and proof of citizenship. These pieces of information can lead you to seek out other resources such as land or property records, naturalization records and even city directories.
How can I find voter registration records?
Voter registration records may be a little difficult to locate. While there are not many archived online, Cyndi’s List offers links to some location specific sites. Also, check local history societies, city/county/state archives and local libraries.
And don’t forget to add any information you may find to your ancestor’s Geni profile and share with others!