City and business directories are available online from all over the U.S. and Canada and are what I consider another important set of information that can assist you in advancing your family history and genealogy research.
This activity of presenting links is a collaborative effort between The Ancestor Hunt and Miriam Robbins, who for years has made available the Online Historical Directories website, which presents links to directories of all types that are available online, including free collections as well as those available only via subscription. I wish to thank Miriam for her help in launching this category of records at The Ancestor Hunt.
So, what kinds of directories are available to the researcher? Naturally city and business directories, but also telephone directories, and alumni, farm, lodge, rural, and social directories.
What can you find in these records? How about:
- Full names, including middle names
- Spouse name
- Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
- Businesses (and index to advertisers).
- Addresses and maps of churches, schools, funeral homes, cemeteries, post offices, courts, hospitals, benevolent associations, newspapers.
- Whether a woman is a widow (including name of husband).
- List of marriages and deaths of previous year.
- Death date.
Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching historical city and other directories:
- FamilySearch - Canada Directories
- How to Use City Directories In Your Genealogy Research
- What's In A City Directory? (a 10 article series about City Directories)
Note: Some of the links listed below take you to a FamilySearch Collection of digital images. Near the bottom of the page under Film/Digital Notes is the name of each sub-collection. If there is a camera icon at the right of the name (in the Format column) then the collections' images are browsable. If there is a camera with a key icon, it is only available at a Family History Center or affiliated library. If there is a film reel icon, then it is only available in microfilm format, not digital. Please make sure that you are signed in to FamilySearch, in order to take full advantage of the collections that are available.
(Updated July, 2020; recently added links are in BOLD)
Links to these free collections are presented initially with countrywide and provincewide collections, followed in alphabetical order by city or county. Please note that many of the counties no longer exist, but are now districts or regional municipalities. Generally, the publishing company is included in the reference to the collection, along with the collection title, and the date(s) of the directory:
- Business Directory of Canada West Directory 1851
- Canada classified Directory 1865-66
- Canada Directory 1851
- Canada Directory 1857-58
- Canada Gazetteer and Business Directory 1864-1865
- Canadian Dominion Directory for Directory 1871
- Canadian Professional and Business Directory, Mackay, 1851
- Dominion Business Directory 1890 -- From Internet Archive
- Halifax, Amherst, Charlottetown, Dartmouth, Chatham, Fredericton, Kentville, Moncton, New Glasgow, Sydney, N. Sydney, Pictou, Quebec, St. John, St. Stephen, Summerside, Yarmouth, Woodstock, Truro, Windsor Directory 1900
- Mitchell & Co.'s Canada Classified Directory for 1865-66
- Supplement to the Directory 1851 Canada Directory 1853
- The Canadian Legal Directory 1878
- Manitoba and Northwest Territories Directory 1905
- Manitoba and Northwest Territories Directory 1884
- Manitoba and Northwest Territories Directory 1894
- Manitoba and Northwest Territories Directory 1897
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1935
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1936
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1937
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1938
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1939
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1940
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1941
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1942
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1943
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1944
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1945
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1946
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1947
- British Columbia and Yukon Directory 1948
- Ferguson's 1901 Alaska/Yukon Directory
- The British Columbia and Yukon directory - 1938
- The British Columbia and Yukon directory - 1946
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!