The Dublin Electoral Rolls archive contains records for individuals who were allowed to vote in the city from 1898 to 1916.
The paper records are being digitized and archived by Dublin City Council on their website. Although the paper records span 18 years, the archive has digitized a subset from 1908 to 1915.
This article covers using free access to the digital collection on the council website.
We also look at how this compares to the collection on the subscription site Find My Past, and some advantages of using both websites in your research.
Who And Where Does the Dublin Electoral Rolls Archive Cover?
If you’re ancestors or relatives lived in the center of Dublin in the early 20th century, then it’s worth checking this collection of records.
But let’s take a look at the restrictions in voting, and what areas the collection covers.
Who Was Eligible To Vote At This Time?
Voting was restricted to:
- Men over 21 years of age
- Women over 30 years of age who resided in the city
- Women over 30 years of age who owned property in the city (without residing there)
What Locations Does This Collection Cover?
The digitized collection covers a small part of the city center. These are the areas:
- College Green
- Dublin Harbour
- St Patricks
- St Stephens Green
Electoral Rolls On The Free Dublin City Council Website
The Dublin City Council website is free to search and view the images of the electoral rolls.
Here is a link is to one page in the rolls. I’ve grabbed a small excerpt in the picture below.
So, this is a property at number 11 on Usher’s Quay (a street on the river). Five inhabitants are eligible to vote.
What’s fascinating is that you don’t just get their names. You see this insight in how they were living their lives.
Insight from the Rolls
Does Thomas Higgins have a little more income than the others? After all, his accommodation has both the front and back parlor.
In the extract I’ve shown, all the surnames are different. These may be completely unrelated people. You’ll often see people with the same surname, and it’s worth delving into potential relationships.
I’ve also found that the “back room 3rd floor” may be the widowed mother or father of a couple in another part of the house.
Seeing the buildings
If you do find ancestors and relatives in these rolls, the buildings are often still standing.
They may have been turned into upmarket flats. But you may find if you put a note through the letterbox, that the current inhabitant will arrange to show you the “back room top floor”.
Searching The Dublin Electoral Rolls On The Free Website
It’s great that the Dublin City Council is putting resources into digitizing the electoral rolls.
But they seem to have skimped a little on the website and the search facilities.
For example, I know that there are over 80 people with the Gamble surname in these rolls.
However, I get no results when I put the name into the “Advanced Search” page. I get better results when I use the “Full Text” search page.
The Council website also gives you the option to browse by year and the streets in alphabetical order.
Bear in mind that family members often lived in neighboring houses, so this is a great way to widen your search.
I mentioned that the search facilities need a bit of work on the free archive. This is where a commercial specialist in search technology gains an advantage.
The index to these records is also available with a Find My Past subscription, which I’ll look at in the next section.
The Dublin Electoral Rolls On Find My Past
Find My Past is a subscription website with a diverse set of record collections.
They don’t have the images for the electoral rolls. But the company has put an index to the records on their website.
What this means is that they’ve prepared transcripts based on the digital collection on the Dublin Council free archive.
This is what an index record looks like on Find My Past. You may notice that it’s for an individual in the example I showed earlier from the Dublin City Council website.
To summarize, this is the info that the Find My Past index gives you:
- first and last name
- year of the electoral roll
- qualification for voting (e.g. inhabitant or ratepayer)
- street address
- link to the image of the electoral roll on the Dublin City Council website
I’ve highlighted the URL link. That jumps you to the full page on the original archive, where you see the inhabitants of all the houses in that street.
What’s Missing On Find My Past?
There are two big reasons to use the link to the original image in conjunction with the results on Find My Past.
First, the description of the occupancy isn’t on the Find My Past record. So, you don’t get to see that your relative had the “top back room, 3rd floor”. I just love those details.
The second reason is that you don’t get to see who else is living in the house (or neighboring houses) in a single Find My Past record.
This is unlike the census records where the Find My Past software stitches together multiple records to show you the household inhabitants when you search for a single individual.
With the Electoral Rolls collection, you should be sure to take a look yourself at who else was living in the same premises. The link to the original document will show you exactly that in an image form.
Why Use Find My Past As Well As The Free City Archive?
I’ve already mentioned that the search facilities on the free city website don’t always give me the correct results.
If you use both sites, you’re making sure that you’re not missing out on records.
How To Browse The Dublin Electoral Rolls On Find My Past
There are several ways to get to the Dublin Electoral Rolls. Here’s one way to browse to the collection.
- Use the top Search menu to “Search all records”
- Set the country in the left navigation pane to Ireland
- Expand the “Census, Land & Substitutes” category in the left pane
- Click on “Electoral Rolls”
- Click the “Browse Record set” link beside the Record set input box
Here’s a picture of the steps above.
The “Browse Record set” link opens a pop-up window that lists all the record sets under the Electoral Rolls category within Ireland.
You’ll see “Dublin Electoral Rolls” in the list. Select this record set and apply the filter.
Searching the record set
Once you’ve applied the filter, you can run typical searches on the last name and optional first name.
Be cautious about using the Optional keywords input box to look for a specific address.
In the image below, I’ve entered a street address – including a house number. This is an address from the previous examples where five people were living in the house in 1909.
The image above shows that the search technology couldn’t find matching results.
However, when I removed the street number, the results were more plentiful. However, I wasn’t convinced that they included every individual on the street.
I advise that you start with the Last Name search field when you’ve filtered down to the collection.
If it’s a small-ish result set, then browse through it.
With a large set, you can try additional keywords to filter down to a manageable level.