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, and newspapers.
- Whether a woman is a widow (including the name of her husband).
- List of marriages and deaths of the 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)
And here are various places where you can find city directories online:
(Updated August 2023)
Select your state of interest, and the links to free online directories will be listed for you to choose from.
- Free Online Illinois City Directories
- Free Online Indiana City Directories
- Free Online Iowa City Directories
- Free Online Kansas City Directories
- Free Online Michigan City Directories
- Free Online Minnesota City Directories
- Free Online Missouri City Directories
- Free Online Nebraska City Directories
- Free Online North Dakota City Directories
- Free Online Ohio City Directories
- Free Online Oklahoma City Directories
- Free Online South Dakota City Directories
- Free Online Wisconsin City Directories
Good Luck and Happy Hunting!