What might be in a directory?

  • A geographical description of a county
    Including its geology, soils, agriculture, industries, transport, etc.
  • The history of the county
  • Descriptions of the individual towns and villages
    Including the amenities such as schools, churches, hospitals, work houses, etc.
  • Lists of the inhabitants that have trades, and in most of the later directories even street by street, house by house lists of all householders.

A set of the 1791 Universal Directory

Is my ancestor going to be found in a directory?

Not necessarily. The early directories included people with trades. This doesn't mean just businesses and shops, but anyone with a recognised trade, such as a farmer, a sawyer, a teacher, or a dress maker working from home. Apprentices  and laborers were seldom included, although in the later post 1900 directories, that had street listings of people in major towns, such people were included. In any case, only the head of household was listed in a directory, not wives or children, and not lodgers.

   Alabama       Alaska       Arizona   
   Arkansas       California       Colorado   
   Connecticut       Delaware       Florida   
   Georgia       Hawaii       Idaho   
   Illinois       Indiana       Iowa   
   Kansas       Kentucky       Louisiana   
   Maine       Maryland       Massachusetts   
   Michigan       Minnesota       Mississippi   
   Missouri       Montana       Nebraska   
   Nevada       New Hampshire       New Jersey   
   New Mexico       New York       North Carolina   
   North Dakota       Ohio       Oklahoma   
   Oregon       Pennsylvania       Rhode Island   
   South Carolina       South Dakota       Tennessee   
   Texas       Utah       Vermont   
   Virginia       Washington       West Virginia   
   Wisconsin       Wyoming