Archives Guide ~ Election Department (4700)

Historical note

The Board of Registrars of Voters was 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. One Election Commissioner is appointed by the Mayor each year, term beginning on the 1st of April. The two leading political parties must be equally represented on the Board and the Chairman is designated annually by the Mayor.




4700.001 Voter registrations circa 1857-1940 with gaps 382 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes indexes to naturalized male voters from 1857-1895; naturalized male voter registrations from 1864-1895; index to naturalized and native male voters, 1896-1900; naturalized and native male voter registrations from 1896-1897; women voter registers, circa 1920-1940. The women voter registers were used to register women in 1920. After 1920, men are also included in these registers.


4700.002 Women voter registrations 1884-1920 122 volumes

Scope and Contents note
In Massachusetts, women were allowed to vote in school board elections beginning in 1879. This law (Chapter 223, Acts of 1879) required that they follow the same provisions that were set for men; these included, paying a poll tax, the capabilities to read and write in the English language, and were at least 21 years of age. Includes voter registrations of naturalized and native women for school board elections from 1884-1920. Only the Naturalized Women Voter Registers have an index, all others must be searched by women’s last name and/or by date. Complete entries include a woman’s age, birthplace, citizenship status, and address.



4700.003 List of Qualified Male Voters 1889 1 oversized volume

Scope and Contents note
Printed list of qualified male voters for 1889 kept in the Mayor's Office.



4700.004 Record of Returns of Votes from the several wards in the City of Boston 1822-1853, 1862-1894 9 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Returns, certified by the City Clerk, of all votes cast in elections. Volumes from 1822-1877 do not include Common Council returns.


4700.005 Record of Votes by Precinct 1878-1894 17 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Record of returns of votes cast by ward and precinct.



4700.006 Records of Votes cast at Special Elections 1879-1891 25 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Records of votes cast at special elections held in individual wards.



4700.007 Record of change of enrolment 1926-1954 23 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Record of appearance by individual before the Election Commissioners to change party enrolment.



4700.008 Record of Oaths 1896-1935 1 volume

Scope and Contents note
Record of oaths sworn by Assistant Registrars of Voters.



4700.009 Scrapbook 1895-1897, 1908 1 oversized volume

Scope and Contents note
Scrapbook of forms used by the Election Commissioners. Includes registration forms, nomination papers, ballots, ward map, instructions, certificates of Election, polling location posters, etc.



4700.010 Annual reports and publications 1875-1991 52 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Includes copies of annual reports for the years 1924, 1926-1928, 1930-1932, 1934-1935, 1937, 1939-1953, 1956, 1960, 1963, 1969-1981, 1991;  "Ordinance Defining New Boundaries of Wards", 1875; "Lists of Streets, Avenues, Courts, Places, etc.", 1880 and 1896; "Act to Provide for Printing and Distributing Ballots at the Public Expense and to Regulate Voting...Being the So-called Australian Ballot Law", 1889; "Report of Special Committee on New Division of Wards into Voting Precincts", 1889; "List of Questions Submitted to the Voters of Boston from Jan. 1, 1822 to Jan. 1, 1909", 1909; "Wards Established Dec. 30, 1924", 1924; "Voting Precincts Established May 8, 1925", 1925; and "Lists of Polling Places", 1986, 1988. Annual reports can also be found in the City Documents series.



4700.011 Ward and precinct maps 1878-1925 8 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Map books showing ward and precinct boundaries for the years 1878, 1886, 1889, 1890, 1895, 1916, 1921 and 1925 printed by the Election Department.



4700.012 Jury lists 1856-1982 126 volumes

Scope and Contents note
Lists of names of persons liable to serve as jurors in the several courts of Suffolk County.



4720.001 Annual Listing of Residents 1931-1978 with gaps 34 volumes and 1 pamphlet box

Scope and Contents note
Annual Listing of Residents age 20 and over. Includes listings for 1931, ward 1; 1938, wards 1-2, 9-13, 16-17, 19-21; 1952, wards 9, 11-12; 1959, ward 18; 1961, ward 15; 1965, wards 17-18, 20, 22; 1976, wards 4, 16-22; and 1978, wards 15-17, 20.