Voter Registration Records
Dennis Northcott, associate archivist at the Missouri History Museum's Library and Research Center (MHMLRC), gave a presentation at our last monthly meeting that served as a great reminder of how helpful certain underused records can be. One of the sources that Dennis mentioned was voter registration records. Keep in mind that many of these records no longer exist, and the earliest are limited to white males of voting age. After 1870, blacks could vote; after 1920, women could vote. All voters had to be U.S. citizens. Between 1907 and 1922, women derived their citizenship from their husbands. They had to be married to naturalized or native citizens to be eligible to vote.
Residents of St. Louis City and County were required to register to vote in each presidential election. For St. Louis City, what survives are registers and index cards on microfilm in the History & Genealogy Department at St. Louis County Library Headquarters. However, the county records have not fared so well. An employee rescued the original books from St. Louis County before they were destroyed and donated them to the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. Their collection of hundreds of books begins with January 1924 and goes until 1936.
The 1924 Voter Registration is of special interest because women were, by this time, registering to vote in greater numbers, as a result of the Nineteenth Amendment having passed in 1920. Often women are under-represented in public records, but these books now become a wonderful resource for finding them.
According to the MHMLRC staff, “Entries in these books usually contain a name; address; state or country of birth; race; term of residence in the precinct, county, and state; age; and signature. Some entries also include the name of the court where the individual was naturalized and the date of naturalization.” In addition, there are notes/comments that can yield additional valuable information such as a move or a death.
To find a St. Louis County resident, you first need to have a street address, which you may be able to locate in a census or city directory. Once you have that, you can go to the MHMLRC to use the books or you can contact the library’s staff, who can help you with a look up. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, this collection does NOT include St. Louis City.
The StLGS website has an article on these records at http://stlgs.org/research-2/government/voter-registration.
Not all cities or states have kept voting records. The example above is from Chicago, 1890.
If your ancestors were not in St. Louis, here are some resources that might help you on Ancestry.com. Also check your particular city or state to see what may be available for areas of interest.
- Alabama Voter Registrations, 1867
- Arizona Voter Registrations, 1866–1955
- California Voter Registrations, 1866–1898, 1900–1968
- Chicago Voter Registrations, 1888, 1890, 1892
- Kansas Voter Registration Lists, 1854–56
- Leavenworth, Kansas Voter Registration, 1859
- Missouri, Jackson County, Voter Registration Records, 1928–1956
- New York City Voter List, 1924
- Savannah, Georgia Voter Records, 1856–1896, 1901–1917
- Texas Voter Registration Lists, 1867–1869
In addition, there are lists from New Zealand, Ontario (Canada), the U.K., and Russia for limited years.
Visit our website at www.stlgs.org.