Two Terrific Free Sites for Online City Directory Research

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There are several subscription websites for researching City Directories to find your ancestors, including ancestry.com and fold3.com as just examples.

But are you aware of two free ones that are quite useful?

The first is well known, and that is Internet Archive (www.archive.org).  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 1,696 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.

The second site, (Don’s List) has a far less number of directories available, approximately 10% of the Internet Archive collection, and also includes some international directories. You can find the directory links at http://www.donslist.net/PGHLookups/Dir1Win.shtml.  The international links are on the right side of the page about half way down.

I have not done a comparison to see the overlap between the two sites, but either of them are extremely useful for finding out where your ancestors lived.  And in many cases, their occupation and given name of spouse is provided, depending on the directory.

City directories are an under-appreciated form of research. Lots can be learned and if your ancestor owned a business, even more can be ascertained.

Give it a try!


5 thoughts on “Two Terrific Free Sites for Online City Directory Research”

  1. May I ask where I could get the 1917 Chicago, Illinois City Directories on line? I did find the business directories but not residential. I am looking for my great grandfather John T. Wood/s that according to the WWI Draft Registration was living at 1040 W. 51 st. Street in Chicago. I am trying to see who else lived in this house with him,
    Thank you so much for your time and any help you might be able to give us.
    Regards
    Patti Woods Crick
    gabbycrick@aol.com

  2. Alyce Matthews

    I have found several people on city directories but I can’t find the dates of the publications.

    1. I’ve encountered the problem several times, but have found possible dates by looking at the directory thoroughly. You just have to look at each page and some advertisements refer to the year that the publication is for. Just a tip, but it has helped me a few times.

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