California Tax Records

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This entry was originally written by Dwight A. Radford, Thelma Berkey Walsmith, and Nell Sachse Woodard for Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources.

This article is part of
the California Family History Research series.
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The U.S. Internal Revenue Service Assessment List for California (1862–66) is available on microfilm at the California State Library in Sacramento and the FHL. The lists include names, location, and description of business, and tax rate for individuals taxed.

Similar to tax records in their yearly listing of residents are the “Great Registers” of California, which are miscellaneous county voting registers that exist from the mid-nineteenth century. The registers were compiled and printed about every two years. Before 1900, they show name, address, and age (although sometimes that age may remain the same after a man’s first entry). From about the mid-1800s, physical descriptions are included, but after the 1898 register, only the name, address, party affiliation, and sometimes occupation are listed. The FHL also has a large collection of the Great Registers especially for the nineteenth century.

Before 1892, the lists are countywide, but usually alphabetical only by first letter or surname. They are particularly valuable for foreign-born voters, as the date and court of naturalization are listed. Copies of the Great Registers (1866–1944) are at the California State Library. Records from 1946 are with the individual county registrars of voters.

The Great Registers provide a viable substitute for the destroyed 1890 federal census and have been transcribed and indexed by the California State Genealogical Alliance in Janice G. Cloud’s (ed.) three-volume work, The California 1890 Great Register of Voters Index (North Salt Lake: Heritage Quest, 2001)

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