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City Directories #general


Joseph Fibel
 

Because of the increasing ease in obtaining Census records through online
sources, we seem to have accepted the fact that this is the basic tool
about learning about the lives of our relatives of a hundred or so years
ago.

However, another sometimes even better one, is the local City
Directory. Before telephone books, these were published yearly,
privately, in virtually ever American community and they go way back. The
publishers sold advertisements in them and sent enumerators to each
apartment and house in the community. The family names were arranged
alphabetically and apartment and house numbers were given as well as the
names of all the people living there. They usually had the business
names and addresses of the people living in the home.

One C. D. even had an obituary of a family member who had died the
previous year.

Figure out when your relative first arrived in the community and look
carefully at each year's volume thereafter. You can tell when they
arrived and/or left and/or died by their absence in the listing.

Most communities today have hard copies of their own C. D.'s in their
local Public Library. The N Y Public Library has a very large
collection of C. D.'s as do other large city and university libraries.
Some C.D.'s have been digitized and are online. Local LDS Family
History Libraries can bring them in as film rolls for you for a nominal
fee.

This is an important basic research tool. I've gotten valuable
information on my families in Easton, PA, Philadelphia, PA, and various
NYC boroughs >from their City Directories.

Joe Fibel
New Rochelle, NY


Jules Levin
 

On 8/12/2012 7:26 AM, Joseph Fibel wrote:
Because of the increasing ease in obtaining Census records through online
sources, we seem to have accepted the fact that this is the basic tool
about learning about the lives of our relatives of a hundred or so years
ago.
Genners should also be aware that city directories also existed for the
major cities of Europe, including the Russian Empire. I don't know when
they started, but I had the pleasure of looking through a city directory
for St. Petersburg >from the 1890's. It included households and
businesses. I suspect that many of them are held in major libraries of
the west, e.g., Library of Congress, Widener Library, perhaps New York
Public Library.
Jules Levin
Los Angeles


David Nathan <d.nathan1@...>
 

Many cities in the UK also had cities directories, some published by the
Post Office and others by a commercial firm, Kelly's.

David Nathan, London UK


Janette Silverman <jsilverman@...>
 

Joseph Fibel <jfibel@joefibel.com> wrote:
However, another sometimes even better one, is the local City
Directory. Before telephone books, these were published yearly,
privately, in virtually ever American community and they go way back. The
publishers sold advertisements in them and sent enumerators to each
apartment and house in the community. The family names were arranged
alphabetically and apartment and house numbers were given as well as the
names of all the people living there. They usually had the business
names and addresses of the people living in the home.

One C. D. even had an obituary of a family member who had died the
previous year.

---
Sometimes if a person had moved, the City Directory even included where
they had moved to

Janette Silverman
Phoenix, AZ


Sherri Bobish
 

Further to Joe's informative post about city directories, if your
family lived in a smaller city or town than you can find unexpected
information in city directories. I've seen mentions of people moving,
including to which city they had moved, along with many other useful
bits of info that were an unexpected surprise to find in a city
directory.

Unfortunately, you will not find this level of data in the large
cities, i.e. NYC directories.

However, the city directories remain a great source of info including
occupation, addresses, wife's name (in the latter years of the
directories.)

Another good source of information are digitized newspaper databases.
Smaller town newspapers are a wealth of info, often having articles
about relatives visiting >from another city, marriages, births, etc.
When searching digitized newspaper databases one can search not only
by name but also by address. This has yielded many results in my
research.

This site lists digitized newspaper databases around the world. The
list for the USA is extensive. Many are free, although some are pay
sites.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:List_of_online_newspaper_archives

Many city directories can be found at Google Books.

Of course, many public libraries have their old city directories on
microfilm. Some even have the original books.

Sherri Bobish
Princeton, NJ

Searching: RATOWSKY, Ariogala (Rogala), Lith.
LEFFENFELD, Daliowa, Posada Jasliska, Pol.
BOJDA, Tarnobrzeg, Pol.
WALTZMAN, Ustrzyki Dolne (Istryker), Pol.
SOLON, SOLAN, SAKOLSKY, Grodek (Bialystock), Pol.
BOBISH, APPEL, WEINER, Odessa


Martha Forsyth
 

Having just read the paeon of praise for City Directories....I feel
impelled to speak. Do NOT just accept what you find online without
question!!! I recently found a page in the files for one town in, oh
let's say 1932 (I don't remember the year). Then I'm looking at a
listing in a different town some 18 miles away in 1935, and something
looked oddly familiar.....the two images are identical!! (No, I did not
check the rest of the files to see how far this damage went - that's an
oops on my part. But I did report the problem as well as I could.)

Be sure you have what you think you have.

Martha Schecter Forsyth
Newton, MA