Abbreviations of Occupations

occup-carpenterYou found this great city directory of the hometown where your ancestors lived decades ago. There are several you are looking up to learn where they lived and what job they held. Then you see abbreviations for many of those jobs. What do they mean??

For example, there could be ‘slsmn’ – here the vowels for the word were removed. Put the letters back in and it is the word ‘salesman’. There is ‘bkbndr‘ which refers to a book binder. Here would be one hard to figure, ‘dlr’ that means a dealer in goods (merchant).occup-salesman

List of common occupation abbreviations.

This same situation can be in US Federal Census records and the abbreviations can be different, especially at various time periods. Plus many times the census taker used the term ‘ditto’ which is not a job but rather you must look further up the page to the last job entered for someone else — the same occupation as your ancestor.¬†occup-factory

List of occupations from the 1860 census can be difficult to figure with abbreviations. There was the occupation ‘chip’ – that referred to a carpenter in 1860. The term for a miner was ‘groover’. So it can be hard unless you use a 1860 guide.

Here is another resource of abbreviations for occupations. Some can vary with an additional letter added or taken out. Here is an abbreviation you hope you don’t see in a census or city directory for an ancestor — ‘P’ – it ¬†generally meant a pauper.


Related genealogy blogs:

City Directories

Jobs of Your Grandfather


< Return To Blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.