GenToday-L Archive

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 your search.

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 have moved.

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 that time.

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 information.

Reprinted with permission of the author and LoneStar Genealogy

Online Resources:

  • Old City Directories


    Tips

    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 days old. 18730310 (Year of death, month, and day) subtract 520419 (Age at death years, months, and days) total 18209891 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.


    Queries

    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. murron@sprint.ca

    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 emopam@earthlink.net

    Researching YAKE in Penn., Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Michigan. and VAN ZAN(D)T in New York and Toronto,Ontario, Canada. jwatt@ica.net

    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 SchuylCo:GOODMAN/GUTEMAN/GUTHMAN fitnesspro@juno.com

    Looking for surnames -- from Fastov, UKR: BERZONER, COHEN from Ostrowiec, Radom, Pol: COOPER,FLEISHMAN,POSNER (POIZNER) From Anywhere: PRITIKIN dcooper@techie.com

    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. davendeb@gte.net

    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 ? debft@rpa.net

    Looking for info on Benjamin Bates Rochester,NY. Sons Birney b.-1848-1849, William b.-1850 He was a lawyer.sge42@yahoo.com

    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. sge42@yahoo.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). dblack@cyberus.ca

    Looking for info on Blackely family from Ireland who also immigrated to Canada/lived Pontiac Reg(Western Quebec). dblack@cyberus.ca

    I am researching the surname of Dinwiddie, Dunwoody, Dunwoodie or of other spellings. If anyone has any information please contact me at dgripple@worldnet.att.com

    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! 4christ@bellsouth.net

    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. dwarnock@planttel.net

    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. PattyWhack@aol.com

    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? peggy.grant@optinet.be

    My husband comes from Durkay, Freeman and Speed and I come from Montemayor, and Lara and Neco, or Neko EKOCLAN@aol.com

    Additional Articles:

  • Newspapers on Microform
  • Military Records
  • Federal Mortality Schedules

    The Genealogy Lady established the "Genealogy Today" newsletter in April 1997. She answers questions online at New-Jerusalem.com, and sells books at her Genealogy Book Store.

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