Thursday, April 5, 2012

Illinois Small City Directories Contents and Index

There's still something cruelly tempting about an inadequately labeled box of microfilm! For those who don't recall my February 25 Indiana post on this topic, I recently discovered that the admirable "City Directories of the United States" series includes a few boxes for most states that are labeled only with the state name and a date range. The only way to find out what's in them is to scroll through and look, which can be a pain when your target may not be there at all!

Illinois has 12 such boxes, and microfilmed therein are a scattering of directories from the early 1900s for smaller cities that didn't have continuous runs (or at least appear not to -- check locally before concluding that!). I went through and found that these films contain 66 directories covering 100 communities in 22 counties for the first third of the 1900s. Each film is identified both by its long CDUS number and by its short Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center number (where I encounter them); that plus the item number within specifies each directory. (Most city directories at Allen County are well labeled and catalogued in their microtext catalog.)

I worked from the title pages and did not analyze the contents of each directory. It could well be that some of them have more coverage of the surrounding rural county than expected. Several of these directories are for neighborhoods of Chicago. In all cases, there is hope that if you visit or consult locally you may find additional directories that the microfilmers missed.

Over at MidwestRoots I have posted the item-by-item, film-by-film listing, followed by an alphabetical index by community or county and time, running from Addison in 1915-1916 to Winfield in 1924-1925. (If you get lost just go to and hit the tab for Illinois small city directories.) Happy hunting!

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