City Directory Research
by Jeannette Prouse
PUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION in the August 1998 edition of GenToday-L
City directories are similar to phone directories. There are differences as
well. These directories can be very helpful to your research. Some areas where
they can be used is locating a possible date of death, when a person moved to
or from an area, when a person became an adult, where a person lived, worked,
married, and many other wonderful uses.
The information provided on a city directory will vary. Some provide more or
less than others. A basic city directory will contain the name of the head of
household, their address, and the yellow pages. Usually a directory will also
include the place of employment, name of the wife, and at times the number of
people living in a household. Even a basic directory can be very helpful to
There are many to uses for a city directory that is beneficial to the
genealogist. One use is when there is not an index available for a particular
census. At times, especially in larger cities, there are cross indexes to a
census by street name. Using a city directory will provide you with the
family's address so that it can be easily located on a census. Even in this
use, a researcher may have to check the surrounding years, as your family may
Another use is locating an approximate time of death. Checking for
the family on many city directories, you will locate when approximately a
person has died. Perhaps, it will also state the widow's name. On the other
hand, you may wish to know when a family moved to or from an area. This will
also provide you with an approximate year by checking several directories you
will learn when your family first shows up or is missing in an area.
Many researchers check only for the head of household; however, there are many
clues that can be missed. Always scan the surname for others living at the
same address. One can usually find other children who have become an adult. If
it is an uncommon surname, you can find information about other relatives as
well. When researching in this century, city directories are very helpful when
used in this manner, since the last census available at this time is the 1920.
The commercial section of a city directory has many uses as well. It will
provide you with information on schools, churches, funeral homes, cemeteries,
and other businesses. For example, you do not know what cemeteries were in
existence when your relative died. A researcher can search the city
directories and provide names and address for the cemeteries that existed at
The city directories can be very helpful when they are searched in a set of
years. If you skip over years in city directories, information that is helpful
can be missed. It is important to check extra years to make sure that your
family has not been missed on a particular city directory. When you are
seeking information on your family, do not overlook this vital source for
Reprinted with permission of the author and LoneStar Genealogy
Old City Directories
Do you have a difficult time locating the birth date when only the date of
death and age is known? Try this proven method called the 8870 Formula.
Example: The person died on March 10, 1873 and was 52 years, 4 months, and 19
18730310 (Year of death, month, and day)
subtract 520419 (Age at death years, months, and days)
subtract 8870 (Formula number)
18201021 (Date of birth)
This person was born on October 21, 1820.
When there are more than 30 days in the day section, subtract 30 from the days
and add 1 to the months. If you have over 12 in the months, subtract 12 and
add 1 to the years column.
Looking for info Alexander Basmajian born in Armenia 1881. He was a grocer and
restaurant owner here in Halifax, Nova Scotia , Canada. He md & had several
children. When or how he came to Canada we do not know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking info on John BARBER, b 28 September 1820, d 19 January 1893 Cleveland
Co., NC; m (1) Sarah Ann Fergueson 29 February 1844; m (2) Mary Ann Goforth 27
September 1860. Parents? Siblings? Motaatom@aol.com
Looking for information on Native American inhabitants of Rocky Springs, Md.
in the early 1800's. Would like to know the tribes and perhaps surnames -
THOMAS CALE SALMONS MILLER DOYLE FOGLE LONG DAVIS SHOOK HAGARMAN
Researching YAKE in Penn., Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Michigan. and VAN
ZAN(D)T in New York and Toronto,Ontario, Canada. email@example.com
Seeking Penn familes: Daup/LancCo:BRINE/BRIEN, HAMMA ,HAUTSCH, LEHMAN PETERS,
RUDY, SWARTZ, TR(A)(O)V)INGER, WOR(T)(K)MAN N'land Co:DUNKERT, MCCLOUD,
UnionCo:CULP/KOLB YorkCo:GIPE/GEIB), HAMM, HENSEL, RAYMOND/REIMON
Looking for surnames -- from Fastov, UKR: BERZONER, COHEN from Ostrowiec,
Radom, Pol: COOPER,FLEISHMAN,POSNER (POIZNER) From Anywhere: PRITIKIN
Searching for a connection to Anastasia ENGLISH b approx 1870 in NYC. Married
Dennis O'NEIL bef 1898 in NYC. Three known children, John b 1898,Francis (a
priest) & Anastasia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Seeking information about a DELIGHT BELLE PHELPS, b. Vermont1825 ?,migrated to
Sheboygan Falls, Wi., 1850's, Quincy, Ill., 1860's, Chicago, Ill. 1870's.
Death ? email@example.com
Looking for info on Benjamin Bates Rochester,NY. Sons Birney b.-1848-1849,
William b.-1850 He was a firstname.lastname@example.org
Info needed on John Sedrix Eves b.-1855 and Mary Ethel Robertson b.-1860 Lived
in Cedar Creek, Texas in 1890. John was a blacksmith. email@example.com
Seek info JAMES DRUMMOND b=07Jul-1832 bn/lived in Perthshire, Scotland.
Brother DANIEL born/lived in Perthshire Sct. Both immigrated to Canada/lived
Pontiac Reg(Western Quebec). firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking for info on Blackely family from Ireland who also immigrated to
Canada/lived Pontiac Reg(Western Quebec). email@example.com
I am researching the surname of Dinwiddie, Dunwoody, Dunwoodie or of other
spellings. If anyone has any information please contact me at
Seeking "Billy ?", a.k.a. "Tarzan" -- in 1976, he was member of "Heaven's
Own", a motorcycle gang in Atlanta, GA. I don't have his last name, but this
is my biological father. Any info on him or the gang would be appreciated!
Looking for info on Henry Jefferson Dawson, b. 1835, GA. Mother b. in GA.
Father b. in TN. H J moved w/family to N. AL abt 1840. Henry Jefferson Dawson
left N. AL in 1853. Next, he m. Mary Jane Peppers in Uvalde, TX 1857. In Bee
Co. TX 1860. Mysaxsjan@aol.com
Looking for parents of Silas Ada Crumley (Crumbley) bn 06/07/1884 Wilkinson
Co., GA-----died 11/19/1955 in Laurens Co., GA. One sister Mary who md Taylor.
Ada as he was called md Lizzie Wommack, they had one son Mack Darwin.
Seeking info Heinrich Jacob POPPE & wife Johanna BRENNEKE-had three children
Will County, IL. bet 1862-1869. By 1870 they settled Marshall County, Kansas.
Their daughter Maria md my gr-grandfather, Wilhelm DISSMEYER.
All I know is that Robert GRANT was marrried on the 7 Jan 1717 to Joan(ne)
FARRANT in Ottery St Mary in Devon. I would like to trace Robert Grant and his
parents. How can I do this? firstname.lastname@example.org
My husband comes from Durkay, Freeman and Speed and I come from Montemayor,
and Lara and Neco, or Neko EKOCLAN@aol.com
Newspapers on Microform
Federal Mortality Schedules
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