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ABSTRACT: City directories are like phone books, but before there were telephones. They have information on residences and who lived there. For businesses, they include what it was and who owned it. 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 very helpful in family history. Other types of directories, 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 http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html .
WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION
- Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( firstname.lastname@example.org
) of Provo, Utah.
- The notes with active URLs and
additional information in other notes and articles are posted at
- 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.
- Problem for today: What are city directories and how do you find and use them online?
ABOUT CITY DIRECTORIES
- City directories are lists of residences and businesses,
street address, showing the residents and businesses.
They usually indicate whether the space was rented or owned and, if a business, what that was and who owned it.
- Because they are by street address they show who lived
nearby and, frequently, the neighbors are relatives.
- For online searches for directories you may need to use "director" since the title is probably singular and this will pick up "directory" and "directories"; you can also enter the [city] and [state.
- Many city directories online are free and you can download or do screenshots.
- PDFs are of different kinds, some searchable and some not - it depends on whether the pdf text layer is on the pdf picture layer or not.
- If a directory is pdf and downloadable, but not searchable, there are (free) programs that will OCR (Optical Character Recognize) your screenshots or downloads to make them searchable -- see other notes and articles on my website of how to do this
- Be sure you keep track of where and when you do a screenshot or download.
CITY DIRECTORIES ON FAMILYSEARCH
- FamilySearch Catalog
- FamilySearch > Search > Catalog - "city directory" (without the quotes) yields 20,000 hits
- FamilySearch > Search > Catalog > "city directory provo utah" (without the quotes) yields 50 hits
- FamilySearch Digital Library
- FamilySearch > Search > Books > [keyword] "directory" (no quotes) yields 12,000 hits (This includes any book with the word "directory" in it that is in their collection.)
- "city directory" (with quotes) yields 25,000 hits and you can narrow down the search by using the filters on the left side, e.g. clicking U.S. Genealogy yields 600 hits
- FamilySearch > Search > Records (This is Historical Records.) -- the city directories are in record type "Census and Lists"; you can narrow your search by location, etc. in the left panel
- FamilySearch > Search > Wiki
has several articles about
finding and using city directories
OTHER SOURCES OF CITY DIRECTORIES
- Internet Archive --
- Website with 1000s of out-of-print
texts and other items for free; texts
are completely searchable and most are
- "city directory" (no quotes) in
Search for Metadata yields 8,000 hits
- "city directory" (no quotes) in Search In Text Content yields 76,000 hits, which is any book in their collection with "city" and "directory" on the same page
- "city directory utah" in Search
Metadata yields 13 hits
- MyHeritage -- https://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10705/us-city-directories?s=195946641 -- Major source of city directories; searchable by name of a person
- Ancestry -- https://www.ancestry.com/search/categories/dir_city/ -- major collection of city directories
- Ancestry's U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 -- https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2469
- Ancestry's blog of 500 german city directories -- http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/?p=2330
- Cyndi's List -- https://www.cyndislist.com/directories/general/
- Don's List (That's not me!) -- http://www.donslist.net/PGHLookups/DirM.htm -- includes online street, phone, and other directories
- Los Angeles California Online Historical Directories -- https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa/ca/losangeles
- New York City directories at New York Public Library online for free -- https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/new-york-city-directories#/?tab=about&scroll=28
- WorldCat for "St. George Utah city directory" -- https://www.worldcat.org/search?q=st.+george+utah+city+directory&&dblist=638&fq=
- City directories -- http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ -- 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 --- http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ut/saltlakecity.htm and http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ut/provo.htm
- UK Historical Directories at U of Leicester -- https://le.ac.uk/library/special-collections/explore/historical-directories
ARTICLES AND LISTS
- FamilySearch Wiki (mentioned earlier)-- United States City Directories -- https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Directories -- good article with links to directory information for each state
- The Family History Guide -- https://www.thefhguide.com/blog/before-google-city-directories/
- Online Historical Directories website -- https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/
- Using City Directories for Genealogy Research --
- Searching City and Area Directories - Ancestry -- https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Searching-City-and-Area-Directories -- many helpful tips and articles
- New York Public Library article -- https://www.nypl.org/blog/2012/06/08/direct-me-1786-history-city-directories-US-NYC
- Polk's Directories (US) -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.L._Polk_%26_Company
- Kelly's Directories (UK) -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelly's_Directory
- Pigot's Directories (UK) -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pigot%27s_Directory
- White's Directories (UK) -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White%27s_Directories
- City directories are useful in family history to help identify people and where and when they lived; they show neighbors add backgrounds for people, including yourself.
- Many city directories are posted online and can be downloaded and/or searched for free.
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