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A Genealogist In The Archives: Where Did Your Ancestor's Vote?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Where Did Your Ancestor's Vote?

For the past few months I have been processing a wonderful collection of records in the Houston County, TN. Archives. They are the Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection.

Houston County Election and Voting Records Collection, in process

This collection of records contains some wonderful information about local, state and national elections and the records that were produced locally in Houston County. These records include voters lists, election results, Election Board Minutes, lists of poll workers, newspaper items and other miscellaneous records.

I had known about election records and the great resource they can be to place our ancestors in a time and place. But going through this collection showed me that it may be possible to also find the location where our ancestors walked in and voted.

Newspaper Clipping Notice of Precincts, ca. 1978, Houston County, TN. Archives

In many states, each county is divided up into districts, precincts or something similar. Each person was required to vote in their designated polling place. This practice is still carried out today during elections. Many times we can only find the district number but if we look a little further we might be able to find out the exact building they walked into and voted.

Maybe your ancestor's polling place was changed, like this newspaper clipping below indicates. Many of the local polling places were churches, schools, the local city hall or other well known buildings in the precinct. In Houston County, TN., one precinct where people voted was at Trotter's Store. This store was a local merchandise store but on election day played a big role.

Newspaper Clipping Notice Of Change of Voting Place, ca. 1982, Houston County, TN. Archives

Many of our wonderful archives have voting and election records. Some are more extensive than others but they all have something to offer. Most of the time, these types of records are processed and housed in the Manuscript Collections. Asking the archivist about these types of records is the best way to find out if they exist.

Voting and Election records are a great resource to find our ancestors and also locating where they voted.



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