Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gems from 1844 and 1860

Illinois Harvest (previously blogged here) has recently digitized two goodies:

First, we have the 1903 "Souvenir [re]Publication" by T.F. Bohan of the General Directory and Business Advertiser of the City of Chicago for the Year 1844, with a Historical Sketch and Statistics extending from 1837 to 1844, by J. W. Norris (Chicago: Ellis & Fergus, 1844).

True to the title, the actual directory of individuals occupies only 45 of the 132 total pages; much of the rest is business cards. Somehow the history is padded out to 16 pages, including this passage from page 6: "What the destiny of Chicago is to be, the future can alone determine. Judging by the past, it seems difficult to assign a limit to its advancement." My step-grandmother's maternal-line ancestors, the then-prominent Lowe family, are well represented.

NOTE: Images of the 45 directory pages only are available at Old Directory Search, which also has Cleveland and Ohio City 1837, and Monroe (Green County), Wisconsin, 1891.

And then there's the 994-page Illinois State Business Directory 1860, compiled by Smith and DuMoulin (Chicago: J. C. W. Bailey & Co., 1860).

I'm not sure their downstate coverage is that great, but if nothing else this cross-section of business life just before the Civil War can add color to just about any Midwestern story. The list of businesses covered is worth the price of admission alone: Artificial Limbs, Mnfrs. of; Axe Helves, Mnfrs. of; Basket Makers; Bathing Saloons; Bell Hangers; Bird Stuffers; Brass Cocks and Gauges; Candle Moulds (Metallic) Mnfrs of; Chandlers; and so many more.

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