CITY AND OTHER DIRECTORIES IN FAMILY HISTORY
©2019 by Donald R. Snow
This page was last updated 2019-01-21.
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ABSTRACT: Directories include telephone books, city directories, church directories, trade and occupation directories, and lots of other things. Yearbooks are mostly from schools, universities, and the military, and are discussed in another class. Many directories have been published, either as a service or else to make a profit, and many are now being scanned and posted on the Internet. Many are free and this class will show how to find them and what they contain. Besides showing that the person was there at the time, they usually provide information that fills out the story of the person or the family's life. In this class we will also discuss finding information about living people. 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 and St. George, 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.
- This class will discuss city and other types of directories and how to find and use them in family history. Yearbooks will be discussed in another class.
DIRECTORIES AND EXAMPLES
- Directories are lists of people, businesses, telephone numbers, etc., and are usually alphabetical by name or street
-- examples are phone books, city directories (like phone books, but before telephones were available),
church directories, and trade and occupation directories.
- Helpful Ancestry article about city directories --
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides ward and stake directories for all members to download from
- Many wards and stakes also produce their own directories and older ones might be in local libraries
- Example -- Morningside 7th Ward (St. George) Photo Directories produced yearly by Leroi Nelson for the ward; valuable tool and historical record
- Example -- Stanford Ward 1964 Photo Directory -- was lots of work to produce, but valuable to all of us now
- Examples of stake directories in Provo, Utah -- I scanned all my old copies and then donated the hardcopies to the BYU Library
- Occupational directory examples -- Directory of Genealogy of Mathematicians --
; Who's Who, Who's Who in Science, etc. --
- Military units, such as Army units and ships, sometimes produce directories with information about their members and activities.
- If you have any old directories, local libraries are usually interested in getting them as historical documents.
WEBSITES AND HELPS FOR DIRECTORIES
- United States City Directories -- https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Directories -- good article with links to directory information for each state
- FamilySearch Catalog -- "city directory" in title search shows 10,000 entries; adding "st. george utah" shows 6 entries -- these are books the FHL owns -- when searching use "city directory", not "city directories", since the plural won't be in the title, but you may get additional hits by searching for "city directories"
- FamilySearch Books -- "city directory" yields 35,000 city directories -- these include books in other libraries that FamilySearch has contracts with; can download most of these and all are every-word searchable
- In FamilySearch Historical Records the directories are in the record type "Census and Lists", but most of these are printed books
- Ancestry.com has major collections of directories and yearbooks -- https://www.ancestry.com/
- Ancestry's Support Center -- https://support.ancestry.com/s/ -- https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Searching-City-and-Area-Directories -- many helpful tips and articles
- U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 -- https://search.ancestry.com/search/db.aspx?dbid=2469
- Schools, Directories, and Church Histories -- https://search.ancestry.com/search/category.aspx?cat=37
- 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
- Directories in England -- https://wiki.familysearch.org/en/England_Directories
CITY DIRECTORIES - PRIMARILY FOR LARGER CITIES
- Try Googling [country] or [state] or [city] with "directory" to find specific directories; also try the FamilySearch Research Wiki
- Los Angeles California Online Historical Directories -- https://sites.google.com/site/onlinedirectorysite/Home/usa/ca/losangeles -- also Los Angeles City Library 1932 City Directory -- http://rescarta.lapl.org:8080/ResCarta-Web/jsp/RcWebImageViewer.jsp?doc_id=Los%20Angeles%20City%20Directories/LPU00000/LL000007/00000001
- WorldCat for St. George Utah city directories -- https://www.worldcat.org/search?q=st.+george+utah+city+directory&&dblist=638&fq=
- Some major publishers of directories
- Polk's Directories (US) online -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.L._Polk_%26_Company and https://www.socialscour.com/ss6/search/web?q=Polk%20City%20Directories%20Online
- Gale (US and World) -- https://www.gale.com/c/city-directories-of-the-united-states
- 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 -- http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ -- I couldn't get this site to work the way it is supposed to, but here are the Salt Lake City and Provo pages --- http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ut/saltlakecity.htm and http://www.uscitydirectories.com/ut/provo.htm -- from the pattern you can probably see how to find other cities
- New York City directories online for free -- https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/new-york-city-directories#/?tab=about&scroll=28
- New York Public Library article -- https://www.nypl.org/blog/2012/06/08/direct-me-1786-history-city-directories-US-NYC
- German City Directories on Ancestry.com -- http://blogs.ancestry.com/circle/?p=2330
- Many links to England directories -- http://www.telusplanet.net/public/mtoll/unking.htm#directory
ONLINE PEOPLE AND TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES
- Difficult to find info on living people online now -- see Bob Rankin article 15 Jan 2019 -- https://askbobrankin.com/sad_news_about_people_finders.html?awt_l=I6HIw&awt_m=IqSq3FZY1OP6SL
- Telephone Directories (land phones, but not cell phones) -- https://telephonedirectories.us/ -- like a printed phone book; by U.S. states, places, and zip codes, but listings seem to be alphabetical by first name
- Mail and Phone Directories -- https://www.archives.gov/research/alic/reference/mail-and-telephone-directories.html ; also try telephone offices and public and university libraries
- Free online people search websites
- Pipl.com -- https://pipl.com/
- FamilyTreeNow -- https://www.familytreenow.com/ -- genealogy related, but gets living info
- True People Search --
- ZabaSearch --
- Addresses.com -- https://www.addresses.com/
- Fast People Search --
- Infospace.com -- http://infospace.com/
- Switchboard.com -- http://switchboard.com/
- 411locate.com -- https://www.411locate.com/ -- U.S., includes reverse phone number lookups
- For Canada -- http://www.canada411.ca/
- Zillow.com -- https://www.zillow.com/ -- shows aerial views and home values of US homes
- Interesting information about history of telephone numbers --
- Ideas for finding email addresses
OCCUPATION, TRADE, GUILD, AND CHURCH DIRECTORIES
- Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT) -- https://occupationalinfo.org/
- List of occupation abbreviations -- http://www.genealogyintime.com/dictionaries/list-of-occupation-abbreviations-page-a.html
- Genealogy Indexer Search Engine for Directories -- http://genealogyindexer.org/directories -- International, including the U.S.
- Pigot's and Slater's Historical Trade Directories (UK) -- http://familyrelatives.com/information/info_detail.php?id=132
- See the Historical Directories site for many trade directories for the UK -- http://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p16445coll4
- Using Trade Directories in Your Research (UK) --
- Crockford's Clerical Directory of Anglican Clergy --
- Directories are very useful in family history since they help identify people and add background to their lives, including the history of your own life.
- Many directories are posted online on major websites and can be downloaded and/or searched for free.
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