||Great Registers, 1866-1898
||Government / Church records
|California, United States. Great Registers, 1866-1898.|
Consists of a series of 185 rolls of microfilm, organized by county. The microfilm provides images of the original printed copies of the Great Registers.
The printed copies of the California Great Registers making up this database were compiled at the county level by district, as required by an 1866 law, and list names of eligible voters in California.
The first voter registrations in California took place in 1866 following the Registry Act, an effort to prevent voter fraud that called for “the registration of the citizens of the State, and for the enrollment in the several election districts of all the legal voters thereof, and for the prevention and punishment of frauds affecting the elective franchise.” An 1872 law required counties to publish an index or alphabetical listing of all registered voters every two years. These lists were kept by the county clerk and eventually were usually printed in even-numbered years, though a few counties, including San Francisco, published them yearly for a few years at a time. The voter lists produced are known as the Great Registers, and this database contains the printed copies of the registers produced by the county clerks.
Only men over the age of 21 were eligible to vote until 1911, when women were granted the right, and the state occasionally passed other exclusionary voting laws: an 1879 state constitutional amendment denied franchise to natives of China (it was repealed in 1926), and an 1894 law established a literacy requirement.
A list of counties and years for which records are included in this database is listed on Ancestry.com.. Even though this list sometimes indicates an inclusive year range of a decade or more, keep in mind that the records were typically published every other year.
Note: A similar data base, California, United States. Great Registers, 1866-1910 is available for free on FamilySearch, but is only an index.