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Directories are alphabetical lists of names and addresses. They are usually published yearly. Directories may list the following information:
- Names of inhabitants (listed alphabetically).
- Address and occupation.
- Spouse's name.
- A street address listing (arranged by address, name, and occupation).
- Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
- Ward maps.
- Street locator, including cross streets.
- Street name changes.
- Removals (a list of local people who moved away. Sometimes their destinations are listed as well).
- Businesses (and index to advertisers).
- Churches, schools, funeral homes, cemeteries, post offices, courts, hospitals, benevolent associations, and newspapers.
- Whether a woman is a widow (including name of husband).
- List of marriages and deaths of previous year.
- Many early directories listed only businesspeople.
Why Use Directories
- Learn the exact years your ancestor inhabited a place.
- Locate ancestor in a census that hasn’t been indexed (esp. state census).
- Estimate year of immigration.
- Learn occupation and employer as identifiers.
- Find other family members.
How to Search Directories
Before Searching You Must Know
City, County or State of residence. Find through sesarching census records.
What to do Next
Availablity of Directories
Local public and university libraries, historical and genealogical socities and state archives generally have historic directories. The Library of Congress has the largest collection of city and county directories.
Directories have been published for major cities in Maryland. For example, the Family History Library has the following Baltimore directories:
|1752, 1796-1860||Family History Library fiche 6043563-601|
|1863-1930||Family History Library films 1376528-56 & 1605845-71|
|1914||Family History Library film 1697549 item 1|
|1940, 1956||Family History Library book Q 975.271/B1 E4p|
Search these online site for Maryland directories.
The Enoch Pratt Free Library at http://www.prattlibrary.org/, the Maryland Historical Society at http://www.mdhs.org/, and the Maryland State Archives http://www.msa.md.gov/ have large collections of Maryland city directories. Local public libraries and county and city historical and genealogical societies are another good source of city directories, especially for small towns and cities.
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. has a huge collection of U.S. directories. Find directories in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog by searching for the town or county.
- Some early directories listed only businesspeople.
- A substitute record that existed before directories is town meeting minutes, which listed the inhabitants of a town.