Frankie Meyer: Vintage city and county directories can be a godsend for finding treats | Lifestyles

Have you used city and county directories in your genealogy research? The booklets were published annually in the late 1800s and early 1900s. They were often divided into two parts.

In the first section of the booklet, the adults’ names were listed in alphabetical order. Each entry included the person’s occupation, address and place of work. The names and addresses of businesses, cemeteries, hospitals, newspapers, charities, post offices, schools and churches were also listed.

If a person was married, the name of the spouse was entered. If a woman was widowed, the inscription sometimes included the name of the deceased spouse. The names and ages of the children were often listed, in addition to the names and ages of the tenants. Some directories place the letter “r” in front of the tenants’ address and the letter “h” in front of the owners’ address.

The second section of the booklet listed the streets, along with the house addresses on each street and the names of the adults in each residence. By checking this section, researchers can learn the names of relatives who lived nearby. Most brochures also included a map.

By comparing details in directories from adjacent years, researchers can often identify important dates in an ancestor’s life. Examples are a person’s year of birth, marriage, divorce or death. A researcher can also find out the year a person changed jobs, graduated, left school, immigrated, moved to an area, left the area, or moved from one place in town to another.

The Library of Congress has the largest collection of directories. Old booklets are also found in libraries, museums, genealogical societies, historical societies, and county records centers. Many directories have been digitized and are accessible to subscribers of FamilySearch.org and similar subscription sites. When looking for families in Carthage, Carterville, or Joplin, check the directories at the Jasper County Records Center, located at 125 Lincoln St. in Carthage.

Sometimes residents of African American ancestry were listed in a separate section or booklet. Directories for black residents of southwestern Missouri have been compiled in Volumes I and II of “Black Families of the Ozarks.” These volumes are available at libraries in southwestern Missouri.

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