Using old city directories in your genealogical research
Directories are the predecessors of the phone book but often had more information. People’s home and business addresses, occupations and sometimes their marital status were listed.
There are several types of directories available. City directories list where and when a person lived. You will also find a publisher’s introduction, a history of the city, a street directory, ward boundaries, a map of the city, abbreviations, a directory of churches, a directory of cemeteries, a list of city officials, classified lists of businesses, a list of fraternal and social organizations, city laws or ordinances, a calendar of events and more. A city directory can often guide you to other records such as censuses, death and probate records, naturalization records, land records and church records.
Business and farm directories list businesses and farms in the community and can contain personal information about the owner such as dates and places of birth, dates of marriage, names of children, length of residence in the town and other valuable information. They are usually organized by county and, depending on the time period, vary in the amount of information they contain.
Professional directories include information for people such as doctors and lawyers. They often include information relating to that individual’s history in the profession and other biographical information.
Alumni directories contain a listing of individuals who attended a particular school, the year that they graduated and their degree. Finding information about your ancestor in one of these directories can help you to locate other records within the organization.
Most people are familiar with the common telephone directory; they contain addresses and phone numbers. These directories can be quite helpful in locating living relatives or possible relatives with the same surname or a similar surname. The phone company in each city in the United States published a directory of everyone in that area who had a phone number; however, phone books are disappearing in this cyber age.
The first place to look for a book or microfilm copy of directories is the public library of the town you are conducting research about. State libraries and larger regional libraries also have city directories for towns in that state or area. Genealogical and historical societies may have sets of city directories. Many directories are online. Google the name of the town you are looking for plus the words “directories online.” Other online resources include DistantCousin, United States Online Historical Directories, and US City Directories.
For those who don’t want to miss a minute of this year’s Folkfest, World Passport passes are available for $30 per person. This pass will allow the bearer in to every performance during Folkfest week. Many groups do different dances on each night of the Folkfest and bring a variety of costumes, making each evening performance unique. Audience members are guaranteed to see something different and new each night.
The Folkfest will open with a free street dance on Monday, July 27, at 8 p.m. in the parking lot of the Springville Museum of Art, 126 E. 400 South, Springville. This family-oriented event is free and open to the public. Folkfest dance groups will teach simple folk dances to those attending with accompaniment by their musicians.
Host families are currently being sought to house from two to four dancers during the week of the Folkfest. Host families are asked to provide room, board and transportation to Folkfest events for their international visitors. For information on how to become a host family during the Folkfest, contact Folkfest Housing Director Heather Quass at 801850-8454 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Old city directories can be a great resource for people researching their ancestors.