City Directories: A Great Genealogy Source

City Directories are a great source to assist any genealogist research their family. Because city directories are dated (usually annual), genealogists can find a specific person in a particular place in a specific time. You can find city directories online (for example ancestry.com) or in a library or research center.

Using city directories help to create a chronological timeline.

I knew my grandfather and his family (including my father) lived in the city for many years before moving to the farm. The city directories helped me to track Grandpa and his family. Finding them in the directory helped me during the non-census years.

Using city directories help to identify occupation and workplace.

I have pictures of my grandfather in his work clothes walking down a city street. I used the city directory to tell me where he worked and what he did. This allowed me to better understand what jobs he had during the war and the years prior to my father’s birth.

Using city directories help to find other people with the same surname.

The city directories are organized in a couple of different ways. You might find them in order of the person’s last name or in order of the street they lived. I was able to find other relatives who lived in the same city. It was interesting to find that many worked in the same place, but held different jobs.

I have found next to the husband, the wife’s name, where she worked, and in parenthesis the number of children in the home. I have also found the word “widow” next to an entry which led to some context I needed.

Colleges are in the city directories too. You might be able to find the address of your relative who attended a particular college in the city your are looking.

Don’t forget that there is a Business Directory, Government listings, Cemeteries, Churches, and a street directory.

City Directories will take you places and move you in your genealogical research.

Kim Hanks

Kim has a passion for Genealogy. After retiring from a career as a teacher, administrator and education consultant, she spent the past several years doing extensive family research. She is a newsletter editor for the Illinois State Genealogical Society and the Peoria County Genealogy Society. Kim is also a member of the Peoria Chapter of DAR Daughter of American Revolution and a member of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants.