City directories have been a wonderful source of information for the family researcher. Not only the names of head of households, but many times, those who also lived in the house, as well as occupations and business locations are included. The Internet Archive has a great collection of directories covering a variety of places and time periods for the State of North Carolina. The 473 directories in the collection are not just the cities and towns like Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham and Ashville, but also there are directories based on trades, businesses or occupations.
Once you locate a directory you are interested in, click on it and more details are written so you know if this would be helpful to you. To the left are the variety of viewable formats for the directory. You can select from PDF (so you can download it to your computer), full text, Kindle readable to just viewing it online. Reading it by viewing online method is a little different, it turns each page full screen for you and you can stop it at any time to examine the information closer.
Directories are great for not only the lists of businesses and names of residents, but the advertisements, maps, schools, government officials, land and population figures and in many cases photos of the area are included. A good overall directory for all of North Carolina is the 1896 Branson’s Directory of North Carolina. It is easy to view it online and there is a search box in the upper right side. Place a keyword or name and any located will appear as a long drop in orange at the bottom. Hover on it and a sampling of what is covered will become visible. This overall state directory for 1896 is 700 pages in length and very detailed.
Once you have mastered the selection on the Internet Archive for North Carolina, go to the search box and put in key words for other states you are interested in researching. The digital collection is not just directories, but also other material in covering a wide range of information. For example listed for Florida is the 1892 book on Dr. Turnbull and the New Smyrna Colony of the mid-1700s in Florida with some fascinating details about those people who came from the Mediterranean region for a new life and eventually settled in St. Augustine.
This is an often overlooked resource, but one that just might uncover some new family information.< Return To Blog