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.

“These records give evidence of a changing and growing America,” said Smolenyak. “Every American with California roots can appreciate this collection and what it tells them about how their own family evolved over the years.”
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With 25,000 searchable databases and titles and more than 2.5 million active users, is the No. 1 online source for family history information. Since its launch in 1997, has been the premier resource for family history, simplifying genealogical research for millions of people by providing them with many easy-to-use tools and resources to build their own unique family trees. The site is home to the only complete online U.S. Federal Census collection, 1790-1930, as well as the world’s largest online collection of U.S. ship passenger list records featuring more than 100 million names, 1820-1960. is part of The Generations Network, Inc., a leading network of family-focused interactive properties, including,, and Family Tree Maker. In total, The Generations Network properties receive 8.7 million unique visitors worldwide and more than 416 million page views a month (© comScore Media Metrix, October 2007). For more information, visit The Generations Network media room at

View images of selected celebrities’ voter registration lists on the Ancestry blog.

Media Contacts

Julia Burgon
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 x. 124
[email protected]

Jetmira Karanxha
Coltrin & Associates for
212-221-1616 x. 125
[email protected]

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

  1. Looking at the sample, Harriet Nelson “declined statement” in 1944. It was the woman below Ozzie who was a Republican.

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