I’ve been collecting quite a bit of data on my relatives in the California Voter Registrations, 1900-1968. As it’s almost time for the Presidential election, I thought I would share some of what I’ve found.
The voter registrations books were very informative. They give the voter’s name, and depending on the year, their age, street address, occupation, and party affiliation. The information is very much the same as one would find in city directories. If a city directory is unavailable for a year you need, the voter registration books might provide the information you’re looking for.
Some things I noticed:
1. People might appear more than once for the same year. Sometimes you see the name with a middle name and then without. Sometimes there are two addresses (denoting that they own two houses maybe?) Other times, it seems the information was replicated exactly the same in two places.
2. With some cities, people appear every other year rather than every year.
3. Some cities grouped their books by several years. You might find your relative three or four times in the same book.
4. Women being to appear around 1912. This confused me at first, then it dawned on me that California must have given women the right to vote before it became federal law. Sure enough! Women earned the right to vote in California in October of 1911.
5. It’s incredibly difficult to discern two people with the same name at the same address. I’ve run into this several times. Unless the age is given or the occupation is distinctive, it’s difficult to know if you’ve got father and son, mother and daughter-in-law, or whatever.
6. During different periods of time, masses of people changed party affiliation. As only 40+ years are included it’s hard to make comparisons. You definitely see a shift to Democractic affiliation during the years of Franklin Roosevelt.
7. As many people were unaffiliated or independents as their are today. I thought this was a more recent development due to dissatisfaction with the two main parties over the last 20-30 years. Nope! Evidentally, people have always been dissatisfied.
I found the research very rewarding. I was able to place people at addresses in between census years. I also was able to figure out the names of a few wives. Learning the political persuasions was particularly interesting. Despite the common myth, women did not always follow the voting paths of the men in their households.
Next, I’ll show some of my relatives and what I found. It should be interesting to see how different groups affiliated themselves over the years.