City directories are one of the most often overlooked resources in genealogy. However, this resource is actually filled with very useful information for your genealogy research. Since city directories were published annually, they are an excellent way to track down the location of your ancestors in between census records. Here’s a quick look at how city directories can help you in your family tree research:
- Your ancestors’ surname and given name
- In some cases, a list of other residents in the household
- Directory of churches, cemeteries and schools
- Map of the city
If you’re researching a particular name over several years, see if you can see any trends. Take note of changes in marital status, addresses or occupations. And by using old maps, you may even notice your ancestors moved from a poor area to a more affluent neighborhood. This may provide you with clues to your ancestor’s socioeconomic status over time. You may also even find abbreviations next to the names indicating if someone is a widow, married or a student.
Where can I find city directories?
If you are able to travel to the city in which your ancestor lived, check out the local libraries. If you’re in the U.S., the National Archives holds thousands of city directories on microfilm. You can also find several directories online. Cyndi’s List offers a wide range of online resources you can check out.
As you learn more information about your ancestors, don’t forget to update their profiles on Geni!