Database: California Voter Registers, 1866–1898
Records: 3,682,335
Last Update: 21 July 2011

Know as the Great Registers, an 1866 law required all counties in California to create a list of names by district of eligible voters. At that time, eligible voters meant most men 21 years of age and older, with some exceptions over time as various laws were passed and some repealed.

These Great Registers, the California Voter Registers from 1866 to 1898, have recently been added to the ever growing list of searchable databases at Ancestry.com. An 1872 law required California counties to print an index or alphabetical listing of these registers every two years. These printed indexes are what now comprise this new searchable database at Ancestry.

The specific content of the registers varied over the years and between counties. The lists tended to include increased information as time went on. Here are some of the details the lists grew to include:

  • name
  • occupation
  • age
  • height
  • complexion
  • color of eyes
  • color of hair
  • visible marks or scars
  • country of nativity
  • place of residence
  • date, place, and court of naturalization
  • date of voter registration
  • post office address
  • able to read Constitution
  • able to write name
  • able to mark ballot
  • nature of disability
  • transferred from different voting precinct

Did you know that Herbert C Hoover, the 31st President of the United State, though born in Iowa lived in California? Did you also know that he was 5’9” tall, was of a light complexion, had hazel eyes and light brown hair. He even had a scar on his left hand forefinger. In 1896 he was working as a mining engineer and was living with his older brother Theodore in Alameda County, California. How do I know? Because I found it right here on the 1896 Alameda County Voter Register on Ancestry.

Voter registers can make a great addition or even a substitution to the census. The years covered by the Great Registers are especially helpful as they can help fill in gaps from the 1880 census and the missing 1890 census.

Complete list of counties and the years included in the database:

  • Alameda (1867, 1872–1873, 1875–1898)
  • Alpine (1873–1890)
  • Amador (1867–1898)
  • Butte (1867, 1872–1873, 1875, 1879–1882, 1886, 1890–1898)
  • Calaveras (1867–1898)
  • Colusa (1871–1898)
  • Contra Costa (1867–1898)
  • Del Norte (1872–1898)
  • El Dorado (1867–1898)
  • Fresno (1867, 1871–1873, 1875–1877, 1879–1880, 1884–1886, 1890–1898)
  • Glenn (1892–1898)
  • Humboldt (1871–1873, 1875, 1879–1882, 1890–1898)
  • Inyo (1871–1872, 1875, 1877, 1879–1898)
  • Kern (1867, 1872–1873, 1877, 1879–1898)
  • Klamath (Del Norte) (1869, 1873)
  • Lake (1872–1873, 1875, 1879–1880, 1888–1898)
  • Lassen (1868, 1873, 1877, 1879, 1886, 1890, 1898)
  • Los Angeles (1873, 1875–1876, 1879–1894, 1896 [for Los Angeles precincts 1–74, Acton-Wilmington precincts 1–4])
  • Madera (1898)
  • Marin (1867–1868, 1873, 1875–1876, 1879–1898)
  • Mariposa (1872–1873, 1875–1877, 1879–1898)
  • Mendocino (1867, 1871–1898)
  • Merced (1867–1872, 1875–1880, 1890–1898)
  • Modoc (1875–1876, 1879–1880, 1888–1898)
  • Mono (1872, 1875–1876, 1879–1898)
  • Monterey (1867–1869, 1872, 1875–1876, 1879–1880, 1884–1898)
  • Napa (1867–1898)
  • Nevada (1867–1868, 1871, 1873, 1875–1877, 1879–1898)
  • Orange (1892–1896)
  • Placer (1867–1868, 1871–1873, 1876–1877, 1879–1898)
  • Plumas (1867–1898)
  • Sacramento (1867–1868, 1872–1873, 1875–1877, 1879–1892, 1896–1898)
  • San Benito (1875–1898)
  • San Bernardino (1872, 1876, 1879–1898)
  • San Diego (1867, 1871–1873, 1875–1877, 1879–1880, 1884–1886, 1890–1898)
  • San Francisco (1866–1867, 1869, 1871 supplement, 1872–1873, 1875, 1876–1877, 1878, 1880, 1882, 1886–1890) [Districts 29–48], 1892 [Districts 28–45], 1896–1898 [Districts 28–45])
  • San Joaquin (1867–1869, 1871–1873, 1875–1877, 1880–1884, 1888–1898)
  • San Luis Obispo (1867–1868, 1871–1873, 1875, 1877, 1879–1880, 1884–1892, 1898)
  • San Mateo (1867–1869, 1871–1872, 1875–1877, 1879–1880–1886, 1890–1898)
  • Santa Barbara (1873–1875, 1877, 1879, 1890–1898)
  • Santa Clara (1867–1869, 1871–1873, 1875–1876, 1879, 1880–1884, 1888–1896)
  • Santa Cruz (1868–1869, 1871–1873, 1880, 1886, 1890–1898)
  • Shasta (1867–1869, 1871–1873, 1875–1877, 1880–1882, 1886–1896)
  • Sierra (1872–1898)
  • Siskiyou (1867–1898)
  • Solano (1867, 1872–1873, 1875–1882, 1888–1898)
  • Sonoma (1867, 1871–1873, 1875, 1879–1880, 1884, 1888–1896)
  • Stanislaus (1867, 1869, 1871–1872, 1875, 1879–1880, 1886–1898)
  • Sutter (1867–1898)
  • Tehama (1875–1896)
  • Trinity (1867–1868, 1871–1873, 1875, 1877, 1879, 1888–1896)
  • Tulare (1869, 1872, 1879–1896)
  • Tuolumne (1867, 1871, 1873, 1875, 1877, 1879–1898)
  • Ventura (1875, 1877, 1879–1880, 1882, 1886–1890, 1898)
  • Yolo (1867, 1871–1872, 1875, 1877–1882, 1886–1898)
  • Yuba (1867–1896)

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