Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Indianapolis City Directories online, two sources

As I've probably said before, the best city directory collections, on or off line, are those that have a steady run so that you can check and correlate from year to year (tedious as that may be sometimes). It's now possible to do a good bit of that work from home for Indianapolis research targets, although nobody has full online coverage yet that I know of. (See the Indiana State Library's catalog for what that would look like.)

For older directories, Internet Archive has a nice collection of images (not transcriptions!) which as of last week included 1857, 1858, 1860-1, 1862, 1865-6, 1867, 1875, 1889, 1890, 1891, 1894, 1896*, 1899, 1902*, 1904, 1906, 1911*, 1912, 1916, 1919, 1921, and 1922. They aren't arranged in any particular order, and the starred* ones are not labeled by year in the search results. Worse, when you click on them to see what the surprise package is, they all three claim to be 1855! You have to look at an actual page (flip book loads a lot faster than the PDF version) to learn each volume's true identity.

For more recent information, visit the fanatically symmetrical IUPUI libraries' Indianapolis City Directory Collection (if you're not local, that stands for Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis), which has images for 1858-9, 1880, 1914 (in 4 parts), 1915 (4), 1916 (4), 1917 (4), 1918 (4), 1920 (4), 1930 (4), 1940 (4), 1951 (3), 1960 (4), 1970 (4), and 1980 (3). If your folks never left 'Naptown, you have a nifty set of census substitutes here!

As you can see, the overlap between these two sources is minimal. My pet peeve is that digital publication sites don't always label their directories exactly as to the year(s) covered. The volume that Internet Archive calls 1858 and IUPUI calls 1858-9 is actually 1858-9, or, in full, McEvoy's Indianapolis City Directory and Business Mirror for 1858-9.

Both Internet Archive and IUPUI's digital collections have lots of other good stuff, so stick around and browse a while.

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