©2021Donald R. Snow - Page last updated 2021-05-24

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ABSTRACT: City directories are like phone books, but before there were telephones. They include information on residences and who lived there and businesses, what they did, and who owned them.  They are usually shown by street address, so you can see who lived nearby.  Now, with scanning, they are completely searchable for name, address, or business, and are more helpful in family history.  Other types of directors, such as yearbooks, church directories, telephone books, and trade and occupation directories, are subjects for other classes.  Many city directories have been scanned and are posted online and are searchable and downloadable for free.  We will discuss sources and how to use these. The notes for this class and related articles, all with active internet links, are posted on my website .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. The notes with active URLs and additional information in other notes and articles are posted at .
  3. Tips:  (1)  To put an icon on your desktop for these notes, or any webpage, just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser onto your desktop.  (2)  To open a link, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. This class will discuss city directories and how to find them online for family history.

  6. City directories are lists of residences and businesses, usually by street address, showing the residents and businesses.  They usually indicate whether the space was rented or owned and, if a business, what it was and who owned it. Because they are by street address, they show who lived near by and, frequently, those are relatives.
  7. In searching online try things like [country] or [state] or [city] with "directory"; use singular "directory", since plural "directories" won't be in the title 
  8. Many city directories online are free and you can do screenshots you find; can sometimes download the entire directory as pdf and make it searchable, if it isn't already; you OCR the pdf (Optimal Character Recognition) to make it searchable -- see other notes and articles on my website of how to do this 
  9. Be sure you keep track of where and when you do a screenshot or download it 

  11. FamilySearch Catalog ( > Search > Catalog > Title) -- doing a title search for "city directory" gets 11,000 hits; "st. george utah city directory" gets 7 hits; these are mostly books the FHL owns 
  12. FamilySearch Digital Library ( > Search > Books) -- searching for "city directory" yields 106,000 hits which includes books in the FHL and other libraries that FamilySearch has contracts with and any book with "city directory" in the text somewhere, not just in the title; can download most of these and all are every-word searchable   
  13.  FamilySearch Historical Records ( > Search > Records) -- city directories are in record type "Census and Lists"; you can "narrow" your search by location, etc., in the left panel 
  14. FamilySearch Wiki - England Directories --  
  15. MyHeritage -- -- Major source of city directories; searchable by name  
  16. Ancestry -- -- major collection of city directories   
  17. Ancestry's U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 -- 
  18. Ancestry's German city directories -- 

  20. Internet Archive -- -- website with 1000s of out-of-print texts and other items for free; texts are completely searchable and most are downloadable 
  21. Searching for "city directory" in Search for Metadata yields 3,000 hits; for Search In Text Content it yields 50,000 hits; searching in Text Content brings up any publication with "city directory" in it somewhere, not just in the title; can add location to narrow your search 
  22. "city directory utah" in Search Metadata yields 13 hits  

  24. Cyndi's List --   
  25. Don's List (That's not me!) -- -- includes online street, phone, and other directories  
  26. Los Angeles California Online Historical Directories -- 
  27. New York City directories at New York Public Library online for free -- 
  28. WorldCat for "St. George Utah city directoy" --
  29. City directories -- -- This site doesn't work the way it is supposed to, but you can see the name pattern from the Salt Lake City and Provo pages ---  and  
  30. UK Historical Directories at U of Leicester --  

  32. FamilySearch Wiki -- United States City Directories -- -- good article with links to directory information for each state  
  33. The Family History Guide --
  34. Online Historical Directories website --
  35. Using City Directories for Genealogy Research --     
  36. Searching City and Area Directories - Ancestry -- -- many helpful tips and articles 
  37. New York Public Library article --   
  38. Polk's Directories (US) --     
  39. Kelly's Directories (UK) --'s_Directory 
  40. Pigot's Directories (UK) --  
  41. White's Directories (UK) --   

  43. City directories are useful in family history to help identify people and where and when they lived; they show neighbors add backgrounds for people, incuding your own self   
  44. Many city directories are posted online and can be downloaded and/or searched for free.

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