Source Information

Ancestry.com. Indianapolis, Indiana Directories, 1887-90 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2000.
Original data:

  • Indianapolis City Directory, 1887. Indianapolis, IN: R.L. Polk and Co., 1887.
  • Indianapolis City Directory, 1888. Indianapolis, IN: R.L. Polk and Co., 1888.
  • Indianapolis City Directory, 1889. Indianapolis, IN: R.L. Polk and Co., 1889.
  • Indianapolis City Directory, 1890. Indianapolis, IN: R.L. Polk and Co., 1890.
  • About Indianapolis, Indiana Directories, 1887-90

    The county seat of Marion County in central Indiana, Indianapolis was home to some 45,000 residents in 1890. This database is a transcription of four city directories originally published between 1887 and 1890. In addition to providing the residents' names, it provides their addresses and occupation. This collection includes the names of more than 180,344 people, mostly heads of household.

    City directories are primarily useful for locating people in a particular place and time. They can tell you generally where an ancestor lived and give an exact location for census years. They are also useful for linkage with sources other than censuses.

    There are usually several parts to a city directory. The section of most interest to the genealogist, of course, is the alphabetical listing of names, for it is there that you may find your ancestor.

    Whenever you use a directory, however, it is important to refer to the page showing abbreviations used in the alphabetical section of the directory, usually following the name in each entry. Some abbreviations are quite common, such as h for home or r, indicating residence. There may even be a subtle distinction between r for residents who are related to the homeowner and b for boarders who are not related.

    Some city directories list adult children who lived with their parents but were working or going to school. Look for persons of the same surname residing at the same address. If analyzed and interpreted properly, these annual directories can tell you (by implication) which children belong to which household, when they married and started families of their own, and when they established themselves in business. In cases where specific occupation is given, you can search records pertinent to that occupation.

    Once an ancestor has been found in a city directory, there are several ways the information can be used to gain access to, or link with, such sources as censuses, death and probate records, church records, naturalization records, and land records.

    Taken from Chapter 11: Research in Directories, The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by Gordon Lewis Remington; edited by Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking (Salt Lake City, UT: Ancestry Incorporated, 1997).