Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Get the 411

Maybe our distant ancestors didn’t have telephones, but in the 1800's (and in some cases the 1700's) cities did have directories with a person's address and possibly their occupation. I found among my father’s things a postcard from 1907 my then single grandmother had sent to my grandfather from the place her family frequented in the summer (She called him Dear Boy… awwww). He had moved to Montreal from Kingston and I looked his name up in the City Directories, trying to find approximately how long he had lived there….  but he wasn’t listed???  Many of the directories, besides having an alphabetic index, also had a street index.  This comes in handy when you know from another document or census that your ancestor lived at a certain address, but they are not in the directory.  They may not be listed if the dwelling belonged to someone else.  So if you go to the street index and find the address, you will see who owns the house. Your ancestor may be staying with family or friends, or even boarding with a stranger.  In my case I discovered my grandfather was living at the home of Mrs Dixon, widow.

The directories also include listings of businesses, churches, schools, social organizations, municipal services, etc. and their directors.  You can use the directory to perhaps get a closer date when your ancestor immigrated.  Keep in mind a person may have moved and his listing not been changed yet.
 Do you know the address where your ancestors lived? Did they move often? Do you know if they owned, rented or boarded?  Answers to these questions add another dimension to your ancestors. I have listed below links to some city directories. If the one you need is not listed, try googling “[town] city directories”. If you get too many recent results, you can throw “historical” in the mix. Also use keywords "list of persons".

Relevant Links:

McLaughlin's Quebec directory (incl plan of city) 1857
Annuaires Marcotte de Québec et leurs prédécesseurs, 1822-1920 

Les Almanachs de Quebec 1780-1841

Lovell Directories of Montreal 1842-1999 
Huntingdon County Business and Farmers Directory 1889 (Quebec, Canada)

The Municipal year book and public utilities directory of the UK – 1911

The Liverpool Directory, for the Year 1766

Fall River Directories – Mass

Pacific coast directory, for 1880-81 : containing names, business and address of merchants, manufacturers and professional men; county, city, state, territorial and federal officers, and notaries public, of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, and British Columbia : together with a sketch of the different cities and towns ... : complete classified and alphabetical lists, convenient for reference : invaluable for all business men.

1 comment:

  1. I've found many addresses, professions and names in the Lovell Montreal directories. Cross checking the list of names with the streets has been helpful when a name was spelt wrong and I know where my mother's family lived due to the directories as the end of the street they lived on was not found in the 1921 census. Either several household were not enumerated or the end of the street is lost or in the wrong group of census.
    What a disappointment to not find her as it would have been the earliest record of her I had found... have yet to find her birth certificate.


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