One of the very best primary sources of information on an ancestor can be located in a city directory of the ancestor’s hometown. Many public libraries carry the local city directories, some of which date back to the 1800s. Historical societies in communities might have microfilmed copies of old city directories or even in digital format.
The Akron-Summit County Public Library in Ohio has made the availability of their collection of city directories for the City of Akron very accessibly for anyone across the United States or world-wide by placing the scanned images of the actual city directories online. Under their ‘Special Collections Division‘ each year’s city directory is listed. Every complete directory is in PDF (portable document format) and can be viewed using the free Adobe reader on a computer. One click on a selected year calls up the front cover and each page following.
The treasures found in the Akron City Directory include some illustrations of the city, advertizements by local businesses, an alphabetical listing of all names of residents, names of all streets and their location, listings of city and county governmental agencies, schools of Akron, churches, newspapers, businesses and professional people like doctors and dentists. Not only is the City of Akron, but nearby communities are also listed with residents and businesses. Outlining locations represented are Wooster and Cuyahoga Falls.
The value in a city directory, especially with such detail, is not only a listing of churches, but also the name of the pastor or minister of each church. With the city or county government, those citizens serving in government are identified. School names and locations are given along with the principal’s name. The civic and benevolent organizations are listed and their location.
For each resident of Akron and surrounding communities; their name is listed, their occupation, their job or business location and home address. This is a wonderful source for anyone having relatives in the Akron area beginning in 1859.
Not every year is available. After 1859, the next year online is 1868. With the American Civil War going on between 1861 and 1865, it is understandable why some years were not done. The 1900 Akron city directory is volume 23, so a directory was not published every year. Some years have several volumes because they were so large.
However, there are enough over the years to follow your ancestor in their work and homes. As the years went on more information was added to the directories, such as population figures. Also the advertizements became more numerous and ornate. With the street listings, the house numbers were added along with the head of household name. This is great for locating related family members who often lived nearby.
Anyone with ancestors in the Akron area have an excellent resource to learn more about family members and the businesses, organizations, schools and government agencies in that community.< Return To Blog