Friday, November 20, 2015

Thorough research in city directories, one quick example

I recently had occasion to compare physical and virtual city directory holdings. The results for this one location -- Decatur, Macon County, Illinois -- are as follows.

Assume that you're researching families that might be in Decatur over a 50-year period. Which source has the best collection of city directories 1870-1924?


Exclusive holdings for each are in bold underline.

Ancestry has 1889, 1893, 1896, 1899, 1903, 1907, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1921, 1922, 1923

Decatur Public Library has 1871-72, 1881, 1884, 1889, 1896, 1899, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1915, 1919, 1920

Don't assume that local repositories have a full collection for their own city! Indeed, since these books were ephemeral, more years may yet be out there.


JBarnes said...

You should look at the Decatur Genealogical Society too. They have a large collection.

Dana Leeds said...

Great example! Thanks for sharing!

Geolover said...

Don't neglect state-wide directories. Have personally used a Lakeside Directory of the State of Illinois (1875) which is principally arranged by business or trade (say, coopers).