City directories are an important tool for genealogical research, providing not only lists of residents of a city for a given year, but also addresses, occupations, and sometimes spouse’s names. They can be helpful in determining an ancestor’s location between censuses, and can be particularly useful for finding information about individuals who can be difficult to locate in other types of resources, such as boarders, widows, and working women.
In addition to basic lists of residents’ names, many 19th century directories are also rich in other contextualizing features , such as listings of clubs and organizations (along with the names of their members), ward maps and street locators, and addresses for institutions such as schools, hospitals, and churches.
Members can access NEHGS’s complete digital holdings of the directories featured in this exhibit through the library catalog:
You can also browse our full collection of online city directories from across the country in the NEHGS Digital Library and Archive.