These records offer a useful portrait of Florida in the early years of the Reconstruction Era. Many families moved or became divided as a result of the Civil War, and understanding where they went in the years between 1860 and 1870 can be difficult. Voter registration records help to pinpoint the locations of specific individuals at specific times.
Furthermore, the elections of 1867 and 1868 are unique in that this was the first time African-American males were actively encouraged to register to vote. For many of them, this voter list is the earliest state document on which they individually appear as a person rather than another person’s property.
Best Practices for Searching
When searching the 1867-68 voter lists, first keep in mind that the State Archives presents this as a historical collection. We have preserved the information as it appears in the original documents. That means any misspellings, misidentifications or other errors on the part of the original creators of the documents are preserved as well. Furthermore, in cases where the original handwriting was ambiguous, we have transcribed it as well as possible, but errors may still occur. If you are searching for a specific person or a place you know should exist in this collection, but for some reason it is not listed, consider broadening your search. A different spelling of the surname, an abbreviated first name or a county boundary change between 1867 and today might be the culprit.
When looking for a specific individual, the best way to start is to choose "Browse by Voter Name." This page provides a table listing all 13,010 individuals who appear either as voters or election officials in the documents. Click on the "Voter Name" column heading to sort the list by name, and scroll down to find the name you are looking for. To save time, consider using your browser's Find function by typing either Ctrl + f (Windows) or ⌘ + f(Mac). Click on the person’s name to view the page on which it appears in the collection.
If you do not find the individual you are looking for, consider searching for similar surnames. The officials managing this election recorded all of the information by hand; mistakes are common. A man named "Parsons" might easily be recorded as "Persons" or even "Pierson" or "Pearson.” Also, if you are looking in a specific precinct, consider that an individual may have moved, so an ancestor who lived in Alachua County in 1860 may not have lived there in 1867. Furthermore, county boundaries have moved numerous times over the years. What is located in one Florida county today may have been part of a different county in 1867.
Common Abbreviations for Given Names
Note that election officials in 1867 were not as concerned as we are today about standardizing names. They often used abbreviations for given names, even on official documents. George could become Geo., John could become Jno. and so on. Here are a few examples:
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