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Voter registration records

Identifier: 4700.001

Scope and Contents note

This collection includes voter registration records for men from 1857-1900, women from 1920-1940 and men from 1921-1940. The registers are not a comprehensive listing of all registered voters. The period 1857-1895 includes only naturalized males and for the period 1920-1940 other sets of registers were used to register voters. The collection has been divided into four series: Naturalized male voter indexes; Naturalized male voter registers; Naturalized and Native male voter registers; and Women voter registers. The fourth series is labelled "Women voters" because the books were intitially used to register women in 1920 and are labeled as such. These volumes do include men after 1920.

The indexes cover the years 1857-1900 and include naturalized male voters only. The second index covering the years 1878-1888 includes two A-Z listings.

The Naturalized male voter registers cover the period 1864-1895 and include volumes 2-4, 7-44 and Office volumes 1-7 and 21-24. Volumes 1 and 5 are missing and presumed destroyed. The information included in the registrations changes over time. In the early volumes, the registrations include name, signature, residence, occupation, date of naturalization, remarks, and confirmation of literacy. Later volumes also include court of naturalization, place of birth, and place of business. The registrations also include references to the entry for the individual in the tax records.

The Naturalized and Native male voter registers cover the period 1896-1897. These registers are arranged by ward and precinct. Both naturalized males and native males are included in the registers which are arranged by street address. Native men are not included in the index that is a part of this collection. Registrations for native men can be found by searching the address. The naturalized male voter index book makes reference to ward, precinct, book and page. Each volume in this series includes books 1-4. Any name in the index that makes reference to book 5 or higher are for registrations from 1898-1900. The volumes for these registrations are missing and presumed destroyed. These volumes also include age, height and weight in addition to name, address, birthplace, occupation, place of occupation and naturalization information.

The Women Voter registers were used in 1920 to register women voters after women won the right with the passage of the 19th amendment. Prior to this time, women were allowed to vote in elections for school committee only. See Guide to the Women Voter registrations. Generally, these registers are arranged by ward. However, on two days in 1920, several volumes in Register sets 3, 4 and 5 were used to record all wards. After 1920, some men are included in these registers. There is no index to these volumes and they must be searched by ward. Please make note of a ward change effective January 1, 1925. Addresses prior to 1925 are found under one ward and after 1925 in a separate ward.

The Miscellaneous volumes include registers for special elections and registers from sets that probably did not survive. For information on holdings in the Election Depeartment, please contact that department directly.


  • Creation: circa 1857-1940 with gaps


Historical note

The Board of Registrars of Voters was first appointed in May of 1874 and was succeeded July 1, 1895 by the Board of Election Commissioners. This department exercises all the powers and duties formerly conferred upon the Board of Registrars of Voters (including the preparation of the jury list), except the power and duty of giving notice of elections and fixing the days and hours for holding the same. The Board also exercises all the powers and duties formerly conferred upon the City Clerk and other officers by chapter 504 of the Acts of 1894.


1.0 Cubic feet (379 volumes)

Language of Materials


Guide to the Voter Registration records 4700.001
Finding aid prepared by Kristen Swett
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the City of Boston Archives Repository

201 Rivermoor St.
West Roxbury MA 02132 United States
617-635-1194 (Fax)