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16 Jan

Here is an example I found in a city directory for the town of Whatcom (now Bellingham), Washington for the year 1893: The five entries above read like a family group sheet!First, the directory informs us that Annie Clancy was a widow, and her deceased husband’s name was Patrick Clancy.The previous article, “Online Resources for Finding Living Relatives (Part 1 and Part 2),” identified many of the websites where white pages, yellow pages, and current city directories are found.But, the old city directories, those published before the Internet, and those still sitting in a library somewhere, are in many cases a long way away from being digitized and included on the Internet for research.But in the back of the book is an index according to the address of the houses, apartments, or businesses —a street index, followed by the house number and names of residents at that address.Using this feature, a city directory can be used to find the names of people living next door to a relative, providing more resources for finding information about people.The Internet has caused the death of many printed genealogical sources, including the annual printed city directories for most cities of America.

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Each directory listed the name of a resident, an address, and sometimes more information, such as a person’s occupation.The Mary Clancy boarding with Annie Clancy appears to be a daughter, and the three men who all work at the same place look like sons of Annie as well.Another later example from a 1955 city directory for Waterbury, Connecticut shows some interesting entries for the name Culotta: The Waterbury entries tell us quite a bit about this family.City directories can act as a substitute to the lost 1890 census, for example.Virtually every city in America with a public library has a collection of city directories for that city.