Ancestry Uncovers California’s Political Persuasions With More Than 30 Million Names in Voter Registration Lists, 1900-1944

Ancestry____logo1.bmpA Modern-Day California Gold Mine for Family History Research, 20th-Century Voter Lists Reveal Party Loyalties of California Residents and Celebrities

PROVO, UTAH – January 31, 2008 –, the largest online resource for family history, today announced the launch of California Voter Registration Lists documenting more than 30 million names of Californians who registered to vote between 1900 and 1944. The collection, now searchable for the first time online, comes just prior to Super Tuesday, one of the most significant milestones in the 2008 race to the White House.

The unique collection reveals the political persuasions of California residents – including famous celebrities who registered to vote during the first half of the 1900s. The collection also documents the voter’s name, occupation, gender, age, street address, voting district, and city and county of residence. Many of the earliest voter registrations include detailed physical descriptions of the register and even naturalization information. Because the lists were updated every two years, the collection enables users to track their ancestors through time and serves as a valuable replacement for census records since California did not take state censuses.

“Peeking into the political preferences of our ancestors and celebrities is fascinating,” said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for “Very few historical records actually reveal the opinions of our ancestors. With this collection of voter registrations, someone with California family ties can discover the political black sheep in the family or which ancestor changed their family’s party affiliation forever.”

Several California celebrities and political figures are found inside the collection, including:
– Actor and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan was registered to vote in 1942 as a Democrat and remained a registered party member until at least 1954. According to Reagan’s 1958 voter registration, he and wife Nancy Reagan changed their party affiliation to Republican.
– Lucille Ball is found in the collection registered as a Communist in 1936 and 1938, and was later asked to testify before Congress during McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts.
– According to the 1944 records, Ozzy and Harriett Nelson are both registered as Republicans. Harriett was employed as an “actress,” and Ozzy as an “orchestra leader.”
– In a 1924 voter registration list, Walt Disney is found alongside brothers Robert and Roy. Walt and Robert were registered as Republicans, while Roy chose to “decline statement.” In 1940, Walt’s wife Lillian changed her party affiliation to Democrat, while Walt remained Republican. Continue reading

Photo Corner: Hoover family of Washington Township, Webster County, Iowa

Edward Ellsworth Hoover, Carrie Alice Taylor Hoover, and their son, Alfred Ellsworth Hoover, ca. 1905, IowaThese are my maternal grandparents and their first child, circa 1905, taken in Webster County, Iowa. They are Edward Ellsworth Hoover, Carrie Alice Taylor Hoover, and their son, Alfred Ellsworth Hoover. They were a young farming couple just starting out in farming in Washington Township, Webster County, Iowa. They went on to have ten children, eight girls and two boys, all of whom lived to adulthood.
Thank you,
Sharon K. (Smith) Martinez

Thanks for sharing your photo with us Sharon! It’s gorgeous! Click on the image to enlarge it.

Article on Push for Pennsylvania Death Index

I was browsing news online this morning and found an interesting article by James Beidler on a push to widen access to death records in Pennsylvania through the creation of a public index. They are asking that proponents contact Pennsylvania state legislators and let them know. You can read more of Jim’s article and find links to legislators on the Lebanon Daily News website.

I for one, hope that the push is successful since much of my husband’s family research is in Pennsylvania!

New at Ancestry

Ancestry____logo.bmpPosted This Week

Weekly Planner: Play with Numbers

As family historians, we collect a lot of dates, but too often we fail to look closely at that information. Choose an ancestral family and examine all the information you have gathered. How old were the parents when they married? How old were they when they had children? How old were the children when a parent died? If you know the cause of death, was it preceded by a prolonged illness? If so, how old might the children have been when a parent became ill? What impact might the answers to these questions have had on their lives? The implications may also affect the course of your research.

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Six Ways to Shrink Your Chances for Success, by Juliana Smith

This past week my washing machine went on to that big laundry room in the sky. Its early death was likely brought on by comforters and my husband’s martial arts uniform, which weighs somewhere between two to three tons when it’s wet. In the interest of energy and water savings, we decided it was important to go with a larger, more efficient front-loading machine.

The new washing machine arrived yesterday, and I stood there staring at it with its neat buttons, user guide in hand. I couldn’t wait to use it. How hard could it be? It’s just another washing machine, right? Cold for dark colors, don’t mix towels with delicates, and don’t mix that new red t-shirt with your husband’s white shirt.

I fought back the urge to immediately throw in some clothes so that I could watch them being tossed around through the neat window on the front. (What can I say? It can get dull trapped in the house on a cold January day!)

I knew low-sudsing detergent was a must, but I was worried there might be other things about the machine I didn’t know. Not wanting to ruin my shiny new washer, I heard my dad’s voice echoing in my head, “If all else fails, follow directions.” I sat down and did the unthinkable. I read the users guide. (Gasp!)

To my surprise, there were great tips that will give my washer and my clothes a longer life, and I learned about other features that I wasn’t even aware of when I bought it.

It really made me think. What am I missing by just tucking all those other manuals away in drawers? And how can I turn this experience into a family history article?

How many of us have read the manuals or Help files for the family history tools we use? That is a misstep I have to admit, and I’m betting that there are a few of you out there who are guilty as well. Let’s take a look at this and other mistakes that may be hindering our research. Continue reading

Inhabitants’ Lists Before the Census, by Sherry Irvine, CG, FSA Scot

In England and Wales, modern census records used by genealogists start with the enumeration of 1841. There were earlier official counts of the population in 1831, 1821, 1811 and 1801, but very few lists of names survive.

Before 1800 there were no government census returns but there were records that can be regarded as genealogically useful lists of inhabitants. You will find that early lists had a special purpose such as recording taxpayers, people of a particular religious persuasion, or people who swore an oath of loyalty. None systematically recorded all members of each family or household but some recorded the majority of heads of households in a parish. To make the most of early lists it is important to determine for each type its purpose, date range, and contents. In this article I will summarize two records.

Two Lists
Land Tax: Land tax records, which began in 1692, show the names of owners of land subject to taxation, along with information about the land and the tax amount. The most useful period is from 1780 to 1832 when the style is uniform and the names of occupiers also appear. For one year, 1798, a national list was prepared of all those paying the tax (not tenants) because it became possible at that time to make a lump sum payment and be excused (“exonerated”) from making the payment ever again.

Protestation Returns: On the eve of the Civil War, Charles I and Parliament were at odds. After ruling for eleven years without Parliament, Charles needed its approval of additional taxes to fund his war with Scotland. When Parliament was recalled in 1641, all members voted to support the true Protestant religion, rights of subjects and the privileges of Parliament. Several months later Parliament voted to send the oath round to every parish so all adult men (eighteen and over) could sign it. Some returns survive for about one third of all parishes. Continue reading

Tips from the Pros: DAR Patriot Lookup Service, from George G. Morgan

If you are considering joining the Daughters of the American Revolution or the Sons of the American Revolution, you may want to determine if your ancestor has already been documented in the DAR Patriot Index. The DAR provides a Patriot Lookup Service at its website. If you are interested in knowing if your ancestor is recognized by the DAR as a Revolutionary Patriot, you can click on a link at their website, complete an online form, and one of the DAR volunteers will check for you at no charge.

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Your Quick Tips, 28 January 2008

Don’t Assume. . . and Check Other Records!
Do not assume that all the youngsters listed in a pre-1880 U.S. census record are the children of both the man and the woman named in the record, even though all the parties were enumerated with the same surname. A case in point: In the 1870 census of Fayette, Kennebec County, Maine, the following household members are all listed with the surname “Neal:” George, 37; Mary, 48; Charles, 16; Frank, 10; and Herbert, 8. However, none of the three boys appears in any other census, at least not as “Neals.” Probate records for Mary reveal that the surname of these three young men was actually “Merrill.” (A land record names George W. Merrill as her first husband.) Mary’s maiden name (Dexter) is given in an article on the Merrill family in a history of the town of Livermore, which reveals that she had six older children and confirms that George Neal was her second husband.
Another case (also from 1870): The following were all enumerated with the surname “Hubbard” in a household in the Town of Hull, Portage County, Wisconsin: Daniel, 55; Jane, 50; Eliza, 18; and Frank, 9. There is no other record of this Frank “Hubbard,” but that is because he was actually their grandson, Frank Target, the orphaned son of their oldest daughter.
Edward G. Hubbard Continue reading