Where to Find City Directories Online

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.

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
  • Occupation
  • Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
  • Maps
  • 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.
  • etc.​

I have been using city directories as a mainstay of my ancestor research ever since I started my family history search. Here are a list of various websites where I found useful information in my own research. They all have city and other directories available for you to search and browse online. Some are free, and some require a subscription:


The Ancestor Hunt Now Has City Directory Links!


Yes, The Ancestor Hunt has recently started cataloging the links to FREE (and only free) city and other directories.  Check out the Directories tab for the link lists by state and province.

I became excited about San Francisco city directories when I had a Footnote (now Fold3) subscription many years ago. They had a nice collection of older San Francisco directories. Fold3 requires a subscription. And they have 1000’s of directories from about half of the U.S. states.

Internet Archive has a sizable number of free directories available. Just enter “city directory” with the quotes in the search box and depress the “Go” button. At the time of the publication of this post there are 3,168 results. You obviously would wish to refine the search by entering your city of interest, but it tells you that there are a lot of city directories available to you.

Don’s List has a nice collection of directories and is free and browsable. There are also international directories available.

Ancestry.com has a large collection of directories that do have an index, so that a surname or complete name can be entered and one can find an ancestor in the results provided. The page where the person’s name exists is made available and all one needs to do is scan through the image to find the subject person. Ancestry requires a subscription.

Distant Cousin (now defunct) also had a search and browse capability for city directories which is free. You might see this site come up in lists of city directory websites.

Hathitrust and Google Books have a large number of directories that are available for you to search and browse. In particular, Hathitrust has many from the 19th Century.

My Heritage has recently been adding a large amount to is online city directory collection. It is available via a subscription.

FindMyPast also has directories of many varieties available via subscription, and is a very good source of not only the U.S. and Canada, but also the UK, Ireland, and Australia and New Zealand.

England and Wales trade directories are available for free at the University of Leicester Historical Directories project. It has browsing and search capability.

Cyndi’s List has a long list of smaller collections of directories online provided by local libraries and historical societies. Definitely worth looking at the free resources as well as those listed that are available via subscription sites.

Finally, Miriam Robbins has accumulated a number of links to city directories, which she has made available at Online Historical Directories.

So try out all of these options – there are plenty for you to choose from. And city directories are really fun to search. And rewarding.

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Free Online Saskatchewan City Directories

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
  • Occupation
  • Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
  • Maps
  • 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.
  • etc.

Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching historical city and other 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:

Countrywide

Provincewide

Lucky Lake, Eston, White Bear, Outlook, Central Butte

Moose Jaw

Prince Albert

Regina

Saskatoon

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

For other Free Saskatchewan Links, click on the category of interest:​​

Newspapers
Obituaries
BMD Records
Photos
Yearbooks
Directories

Free Online Manitoba City Directories

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

  • Occupation

  • Widows, working women, and adult children at home.

  • Maps

  • 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.

  • etc.

Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching historical city and other 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:

Countrywide

Provincewide

Brandon

Portage la Prairie

Steinbach, Chortitz, Kleefeld, Greenland

Winnipeg

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

For other Free Manitoba Links, click on the category of interest:​​

Newspapers
Obituaries
BMD Records
Photos
Yearbooks
Directories

Free Online New Brunswick City Directories

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
  • Occupation
  • Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
  • Maps
  • 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.
  • etc.

Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching historical city and other 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:

Countrywide

Provincewide

Fredericton

Saint John and Portland

St. John

St. John and Fredericton

Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

​For other Free New Brunswick Links, click on the category of interest:​

Newspapers
Obituaries
BMD Records
Photos
Yearbooks
Directories

Free Online Nova Scotia City Directories

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
  • Occupation
  • Widows, working women, and adult children at home.
  • Maps
  • 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.
  • etc.

Here are a few good primers on the benefits of searching historical city and other 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:

Countrywide

Provincewide

Amherst

Annapolis

Halifax

Pictou

​Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

​For other Free Nova Scotia Links, click on the category of interest:​

Newspapers
Obituaries
BMD Records
Photos
Yearbooks
Directories

How to Find Historical Obituaries

One of the main goals for genealogists in searching historic newspapers is to find obituaries. Obituaries are a gold mine of information. They provide death dates and locations, funeral and cemetery information and more importantly – information about the relatives of the deceased’s family and extended family. This family name information is often not found anywhere else.

For a good summary of what kind of pertinent information you can find in obituaries, click on 32 Reasons Why Searching for Obituaries is Like Finding Gold

In the old days, finding obituaries required flipping though old newspapers in libraries or newspaper rooms. It was a tedious process, but all we had. Today, this is called “browsing”.

Over the past few decades, thanks to volunteers, librarians, and archivists, these old newspapers began to be microfilmed, and more recently, digitally scanned.  And the microfilms have been scanned as well.  So now, flipping through these digital representations of the old newspapers is much more easily accomplished.

With the addition of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), dots on a newspaper page can now be interpreted as letters or symbols, forming words, and complete articles. And with the advent of crowdsourcing and text correction, the OCR results can now be improved by users of online newspaper collections.

Where are Obituaries?

In short, obituaries can be found in four places:

  • You can still find original newspapers in libraries and archives
  • Microform representation of newspapers can be found in libraries and archives.
  • Digitized online newspaper collections that are provided by libraries, archives, and many commercial and other suppliers.
  • Obituary and Obituary Index collections that are provided by libraries, genealogical and historical societies, and general representations in free online sites such as FamilySearch and Rootsweb. Many of the indexes might represent entries in scrapbooks and file folders held at libraries and societies.

Where are Online Obituaries Found?

The creators of online obituary collections include:

  • Newspaper scanning entities
  • Online Newspapers
  • Public and Academic Libraries
  • Nursing Homes
  • Churches
  • Coroners
  • Mortuaries and Funeral Homes
  • Genealogical and Historical Societies
  • Museums
  • Fraternal organizations
  • School & Alumni Associations

Obituary Indexes and Obtaining the Obituary

Obituary Indexes are created by people patient enough to go through old obituaries regardless of their source and capture (at a minimum) the name of the deceased and the publication name and date of the newspaper where the obituary originally resided. With that minimal information you can browse or search the newspaper issue for the representation of the original obituary. Often, additional information is included in the index, such as death date, death location, birth date, etc.

Nomenclature can be an issue when dealing with obituaries and obituary indexes.  For example, is a Death Notice the same as an Obituary?  Is a Death Index the same as an Obituary Index? 

I would encourage you to read What is the Difference Between an Obituary, a Death Notice, an Obituary Index and a Death Index?

So now that you find an obituary from an index you want to get your hands on, what do you do? 

If you have the name of the newspaper and the publication date, you can browse or search that newspaper for the obit. As mentioned earlier, you can browse originals, scroll through microfilm, or browse through a digital representation of the newspaper, available at a library computer or online.

If you searched or browsed through an obituary index at a library or online, often that institution will have clippings in a book or file folders and for a small fee will make a copy (digital or otherwise) and email or mail it to you.

Online Obituary Sites for Fairly Recent Obituaries

In the last 20 years or so, many online obituary aggregator sites have cropped up, such as Legacy, and original online obituary “publishers”, such as Tributes. These types of sites are the future for obituary “publishing”. Because of the cost of contributing newspaper obituaries and the diminishing paper subscribers, most newspapers now publish obits in their online sites.

I would encourage you to read What is the Future of Obituaries? for more information.

Obituary Collector Sites

There are also “Obituary Collectors” who have sites that you can search. Many of them charge a small fee to download a transcription, or the sites are full of ads, which makes navigating the sites somewhat difficult.

The Ancestor Hunt and Obituaries

Besides general genealogical topics, this website began in earnest over 5 years ago researching and listing links to free online historical newspaper collections. Today there are over 39,000 titles from the U.S. and Canada available. Click on the Newspaper Links Page for the lists of links.

About two years ago, I began collecting links to historical obituaries freely available online. Also, links to obituary indexes have been collected. Currently, there are about 3,000 links to free obituary and obituary index sites. Click on the Obituaries Page for the lists of links.
Some of my greatest breakthroughs in my personal genealogy research have been because of obituaries.  Hopefully, you will have the same good fortune.

California Birth, Marriage, and Death (BMD) Record Links

In the first half of 2021, I separated the links for Birth, Marriage, and Death Records and Indexes into three web pages rather than one combined page with all three categories. This was due to the length of one web page for all categories becoming too long. Choose your category below (sorry for the extra click).

California

8,600 Newly Added U.S. Birth, Marriage, and Death Record Collection Links

One of the main goals for genealogists is finding birth, marriage, and death (BMD) information about their ancestors.
During May 2020 I have been updating the links to online BMD record collections that are available to search and/or browse for free. There are a total of 13,671 online BMD record database links that I have found for the U.S. Of these, over 8,631 have been added since the previous update. 
You can access these lists of links below, or you can always go to the BMD Records tab above.

​Good Luck and Happy Hunting!

Alaska Birth, Marriage, and Death (BMD) Record Links

In the first half of 2021, I separated the links for Birth, Marriage, and Death Records and Indexes into three web pages rather than one combined page with all three categories. This was due to the length of one web page for all categories becoming too long. Choose your category below (sorry for the extra click).

Alaska

Arizona Birth, Marriage, and Death (BMD) Record Links

In the first half of 2021, I separated the links for Birth, Marriage, and Death Records and Indexes into three web pages rather than one combined page with all three categories. This was due to the length of one web page for all categories becoming too long. Choose your category below (sorry for the extra click).

Arizona