Voter registration records are available online and offline from all over the world and are what I consider a hidden gem of information that can assist you in advancing your family history and genealogy research.
Before I get to the list of 9 reasons why voter records are such a wonderful tool for researching (and finding) ancestors, let me tell you a little story about why they have been incredibly helpful for me:
I already knew who my great-great-grandfather was and his name was Louis Marks, but I did not know his parents’ names or the names of any siblings. But a Great Register – a fancy name for a voter registration list, was found for the city of San Francisco. And not only was he on it, but also was another person with the same surname, Emil Marks. Now there were many folks with that surname in San Francisco and I am not naive enough to think that they all were related. But in that Great Register, it included their naturalization date – and Louis and Emil were naturalized on the same day. That made my ears perk up so I researched further elsewhere and guess what – they had the same witnesses named in their naturalization index cards. Still doesn’t prove a blood relationship, so off I went to look at city directories for that time and I found an entry for a business named “Louis Marks and Bro,” under Emil’s entry where it stated that he was an owner as well. Sufficient to assume now that they were indeed brothers, right?
Sorry, we aren’t done but I will keep it short. Then I found a newspaper article where a Fanny Lust was handling the estate of Emil Marks, who was run over by a train in Oakland. Suspecting a possible blood relationship, I researched further but had no luck finding evidence of a sibling relationship between Fanny and the boys. In the meantime, I was contacted by a new “cousin”, who was a descendant of Fanny and he alerted me to the fact that her maiden name was “Marks.” Getting warmer! Then I found the obituary for Emil in the newspaper and lo and behold it listed his siblings as Louis, Mrs. S. Lust, and Mrs. I. Schudmack. Fanny had been married to a Simon Lust (who by the way had a business partner in the 1860s – one Emil Marks). So now we had evidence of a sibling relationship between Fanny, Louis, and Emil PLUS a bonus – another sister, who turned out to be named Lottie and was married to Isaac Schudmack!
All this was started and discovered over several years because of a Voter Record. End of story.
Download the Quicksheet PDF
If you are inspired enough to search voter records and the like, you can obtain a one-page Quicksheet pdf for easy reference of what information to look for, by clicking on the Download button below:
For all the previously published Quick Reference Guides, click on QuickSheets.
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!
4 replies on “9 Reasons Why You Should Be Researching Voter Records – A Hidden Gem”
Thanks for your comment
For the benefit of readers with Australian research, I’d like to add another reason for using electoral records. From about the 1920s until 1991, State electoral rolls for Queensland (at Qld State Archives) have hand-written annotations with details such as change of street address, or what electorate someone moved to, or the reason for their removal from the roll (death, insanity etc), or change of name (eg, when a woman married). This only applies to two of our four series of rolls (not the Commonwealth rolls on Ancestry).
Thank you Judy for providing this information, Excellent that these annotations are added. Very useful!