Monday, July 28, 2008

Still more confusing Chicago City Directories!

Back in April I blogged about the many books hiding under the simple guise of "Chicago City Directory for [year]." Besides the free sites Newberry Library's Chicago Ancestors, Chicago History Museum, and Illinois Harvest, is also in the fray.

Key new information here: what calls the 1871 Chicago City Directory is apparently identical to Illinois Harvest's Edwards' ... annual directory ... of Chicago. v.14 External Link I say "apparently" because the version includes two additional title pages, one characterizing it as a "Fire Edition" and claiming that its information has been carried up to December 12, 1871, but so far the pages I have viewed contain the same information in the same format as before.

Each of these online sources has its good points, and each has directories the others lack.

The Newberry's site is linked with other very useful resources for Chicago research, including a mapping function and the Chicago History Museum's book documenting the 1911 street renumbering in PDF format. It also breaks the directories up into units by letter so that you don't have to download the whole thing. It has directories designated as 1866, 1870, Edwards' Census 1871, 1875, 1880, 1885, 1892, and 1900. (Check my earlier post for more detailed citation proposals, especially for the confusing 1870-1872 period.)

Illinois Harvest requires you to download the whole thing, but it prints up very nicely and it preserves the original page order, which is no small matter if you've struggled with As far as I know IH has only two directories, Edwards' volume 12 (1869-1870), and Edwards' volume 14 (1871, not the same as "Edwards' Census" displayed at the Newberry site)., the only pay site discussed here, has more directories than anyone -- 1843-1849, 1851-1889, 1902-1903, and 1908-1909. You can search across years and save wanted pages in a "gallery." But. The last three years are incomplete as of midday 27 July 2008. And many of the complete directories have their pages out of order. Each directory's unpaginated front matter is dumped at the back, making it an adventure to find the title page for proper citation, and the variously paginated portions of the directory are usually presented, not in their original sequence (which heaven knows was arbitrary enough), but by page number. For example, the residential directory's page 21 is followed by the business directory's page 21, and so forth. Also, has taken the liberty of renaming the 1874-5 directory as "1874," 1875-6 as "1875," and so forth through 1878-9. The print quality is a bit below the Newberry and Illinois Harvest standard. (Some related discussion on Michael John Neill's Rootdig blog and on the Association of Professional Genealogists' listserv, both of which are free and should be lurked on by any wannabe genealogist.)

Lest we forget, the Chicago History Museum has the 1928 "criss-cross" Chicago directory on line (and many other on and off line resources). But you will need to know the street on which your research target lived in order to find him or her, as (from my point of view) the directory only has the criss and not the cross. I found it a little touchy to get loaded but it would probably help to have the latest PDF reader.

The fact is that Chicago researchers who don't live next door to a major genealogy library can't do without any of these four sites. And we can't afford to call "1871 Chicago City Directory" an adequate citation, either.

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