Tony the Tour Guy's Blog

A not very regular series of posts on New York City history, historic preservation, genealogy and related themes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Find your family in old City Directories

If you're curious as to where your family used to live and what they did then there is no easier thing to do than head over to the New York Historical Society on Central Park West and 77 Street, where you can consult city directories going back as far as the 1830s for free in their beautiful library.

For decades before telephone directories were introduced various private companies published listings of the residents of Manhattan and Brooklyn, along with their addresses and the occupation of the head of household. Widows were also listed along with the names of their deceased husbands. Just look for your ancestor in the alphabetical listings. I've found numerous family members this way.

City directories are fun to browse even if you don't care about family history. They contain numerous ads for businesses and services, and you can get a good idea as to what ethnic groups lived where by looking up common surnames.

There are other places where you can access old city directories, but the NYHS has many in print form - much easier to deal with than microfilm. They also have very friendly staff, and a beautiful building, which features history exhibits, a fun gift shop and a cafe.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home