City and business directories are available online from all over the U.S. 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 - United States 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.
(Updated July, 2020; recently added links are in BOLD)
Links to these free collections are presented initially with statewide collections, followed in alphabetical order by city or county. Generally, the publishing company is included in the reference to the collection, along with the collection title, and the date(s) of the directory:
- Directory of Federal and State departments and agencies in Mississippi, 1936
- Directory of Federal and State departments and agencies in Mississippi, 1938
- Directory of Federal and State departments and agencies in Mississippi, 1939
- Tri-State Chinese Directory of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!