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 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 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 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 1860’s – 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.
So with that story, and the discovery of new aunts and uncles as well as a living “cousin”, 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
For all the previously published Quick Reference Guides, click on QuickSheets.
The Ancestor Hunt has about 1,000 Free Voter Record Collections! Check them out at Voter Records
Good luck with your search and hopefully you too will be able to have a voter record play a big breakthrough role in your family history research!