Q:

How do you find U.S. city directories?

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Quick Answer

Find U.S. city directories at various genealogy websites such as Ancestry.com, DistantCousin.com and Familysearch.org. These sites organize directories by state and include listings from the 19th through 20th centuries. Additionally, the U.S. Library of Congress maintains the largest collection of viewable city directories, consisting of microfilm copies of over 1200 city directories dating from 1861 through 1960, depending on a specific city.

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Full Answer

A city directory is an alphabetical listing of the adult residents of a city that includes addresses and other information. Annually compiled city directories were originally published to assist businesses and organizations in contacting residents via the mail service.

Related to city directories are telephone directories, listing the name, address and telephone number of city residents. They are generally organized alphabetically according to the last name of the resident. With the rise in use of the Internet, phone books and city directories generally have phased out physical printing in favor of an online presence.

Older city directories are useful in genealogy research because they often indicate information such as the occupation, number of family members and exact years that an ancestor resided in a particular city. When cross-referenced with census information, city directories provide an accurate means to establish ancestor data.

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