Ancestry is home to an extensive collection of telephone directories. Directories typically contain entries for the head of household and include name, occupation, and home address. Business listing may include the professional listing for family members. In the case of older telephone directories, these You may find street directories, lists of advertisements (which may include your ancestor’s business), lists of government officials, charitable organizations, churches, cemeteries, hotels, maps, and much more.
In the case of recent directories, if your surname is a bit unusual, consider reaching out to people who share that surname who are living near places where your ancestors lived. This is a good way to connect with families who have drifted apart. Be aware that they may be suspicious of your motives at first, but if you share some family information and perhaps a photograph of one of your ancestors, they may be more willing to share what they know.
Telephone directories typically contain the name of the person, home and business addresses, and occasionally, their occupation.
Use that information to expand your search and seek out other local records that may have been created while your ancestor lived there.
- If you know your ancestor’s occupation, check for a section of the directory listing phone numbers by profession. You may even find an advertisement for their business.
- Only search for your ancestor’s surname. Since the entries are alphabetical you’ll see all of the people with that surname and you don’t run the risk of missing your ancestor if his given name is abbreviated.
- In collections that contain directory images, be sure to use both the browse and search functions. Browsing lets you view a directory page-by-page as you would if you were looking at the actual book. Check the table of contents to see what types of information were included. You may find street directories, lists of advertisements (which may include your ancestor’s business), lists of government offices, charitable organizations, churches, cemeteries, hotels, maps, and much more. The table of contents is your guide to the contents and using the page numbers found in the index, you can navigate easily to sections of interest.
- Remember that many people share the same names, so when you find your ancestor in a city directory, be sure to use other sources like censuses or family records to confirm that the address and occupation match.
- Once you’ve found your ancestor in a directory, take the time to look at the addresses and occupations of other people who share their surname. You might find relatives living in neighboring houses or working in the same industry.
- Once you’ve located an ancestor in a telephone directory, enter the street address (in quotes) into the keyword field. This will bring up other residents of that address, which may include in-laws and other family members.