Occupations & City Directories in Abbreviated Form

city directoryThis has happened to everyone doing family research. You find on a census record or a journal, military record, anything — there is a few letters put together that stand for ‘something’ but what?? If you have a clue as to it being a place or name, you can try to figure it out. However, what it might be is an occupation.

For example seeing ‘delctan’ would you know that was a worker in a delicatessen? Or there is ‘ry’ do you right away know it means a person who worked for the railway system? Hardly.
You need some form of a dictionary that shows the various forms of abbreviations and what they mean that related to occupations.
Some of the abbreviations are now just commons terms or ways of expressing the person’s job. There is ‘vet’ which would be veterinarian. So some can be figured, but many other can not. Using the Occupational Abbreviations site online which can clear up any confusion.
There can be problems when reading city directories, there are many abbreviations used in such a booklet. Some do have a dictionary in the front or back explaining the abbreviations, but also many do not have such a dictionary. Use the online city directory abbreviations site.
Some examples of unusual city directory abbreviations are: ‘lbr’ – that is for a lumber yard; then ‘rr’ means the rear portion of the building; but if you see ‘RR’ using capital letters, it means rural route.
Never assume you know what an abbreviation stands for, you might be way off track.
Photo: Example of a city directory from 1900 and the many abbreviations used.

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