Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Find your Midwesterners in Pittsburgh

Thanks to ResearchBuzz for pointing out a very interesting subset of genealogically valuable material within the historical gold mine that is Historic Pittsburgh: 125 city directories 1815-1945.

As city directory digitizations go, this is a wonderfully well designed site. Let me count the ways:

* it includes actual images of directory pages, as opposed to error-prone transcriptions.

* it offers a long run of consecutive years, which is required for good research, given that directories often missed people in any given year.

* it keeps pages in their actual sequence, rather than mechanically rearranging them in numerical "order," or even conflating different directories of the same year, as Footnote sometimes unfortunately does.

* it allows searches of ancillary matter such as addresses -- making it possible to find extra residents at a given address, even if the city was too large to have had a criss-cross directory organized by address. So this new format is far more than a mere convenience and travel-saver; it is a powerful research tool.

Right now I'm recalling the long afternoons I spent cranking microfilm following my wife's Boren ancestors in the Pittsburgh directories. They were hard-working but not well off, and they moved every year. Happy New Year, and use this fine resource in good health!

1 comment:

Palmsrv said...


Thanks for the reminder. It's been a while since I've looked at the Historic Pittsburgh site.