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City Directories << Census Records <<

| Go to the City Directories Guide |

City Directories

 Video Clip
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Ancestors host Scott Wilkinson and expert Kathleen Hinckley discuss another important source of information: city directories.

family Although not a census record, city directories are often used in conjunction with censuses to help fill in the gaps between those years ending in "0." Forerunners to today's telephone directories, city directories began appearing for the major East coast cities even before 1800. By the middle of the century, they were available for more than 70 cities and some smaller communities.

City directories traditionally contained more than just addresses. In many cases, you can find a separate listing for each person over 18 in a particular household. Occupations are also frequently provided, as are other clues such as "widow, James," allowing you to determine relationship or narrow the search for James's death. Maps and street directories can be used to identify the ward where an ancestor resided, making it easier to find them in an unindexed census record. These same tools can help you determine which church your ancestors may have attended or businesses they may have patronized. And of course, city directories permit you to follow your ancestors' moves and changes in occupation over the years, possibly leading to deeds, employment records, or other resources.

 
 
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