Wednesday, June 20, 2007

City Directories on Footnote

I found this blog post on Creative Gene about City Directories called What's in a City Directory? At Footnote we have several early 20th and late 19th century city directories from the northeastern United States.

Bridgham Lorenzo; City Directories So what is in a city directory and why should you look into them? To the left is a thumbnail of one on the Footnote site. I've transcribed some of the gems from this page:

Bridgham Lorenzo, farmer, house near Young's corner
Briggs B. Franklin (E. F. Packard & Co.), Railroad sq., cor. Court, house Academy, opp. High School
Brooks Wallace W., shoemaker, bds. Mrs. R. Brooks', Main
Brown Orrin, card grinder Barker mill, h. 13 Second

So breaking it down we have names, occupations, company names, and addresses, all good stuff. In addition to the specific information about individuals (which is interesting to family historians), it gives a snapshot in location and time, and more importantly does so on an annual basis instead of every 10 years like a census. This is, of course, also valuable to all Family Historians, regardless of whether your ancestor is in the city directory.

On Footnote we don't have that many towns where we have multiple years yet. One example where we do is Bangor, Maine where we have 1871 and 1882. Looking at the first pages of each, we find that Peter Ackerman is still a fresco painter 11 years later but has moved. We see that the Adams Brothers are still running a hat manufacturing business and are still located at 5 Kenduskeag bridge.

What would be really interesting if somebody out there was a descendant of the Adams Brothers and had a photograph of the brothers at their factory or Peter Ackerman and one of his frescos. They could upload that image and build a story page tying their photo to the city directory of Bangor. Building those sorts of connections within original documents is what Footnote is all about. As we like to say at Footnote, there are hundreds, even thousands of stories here to be discovered and told.

Links referenced in this post:
What's in a City Directory? - Creative Gene
City Directories on Footnote.com
City Directories Footnote Catalog Description

1 comment:

Happy Dae said...

Excellent. As an avid researcher of City Directories for years, I wrote a presentation about it. You can find it on ShoeString Genealogy in the Presentations area. Oh, and it's free.

Happy Dae.