Some city directories have reverse directories that list residents by their address, not their names. This portion of the directory can be a great way to find names of neighbors, especially in off census years. This portion of a city directory is best used along with a contemporary map to assist in visualization.



4 Responses

  1. Reverse directories have been helpful to me. When trying to determine if the Maria Smith in the directory was mine or not (and therefore still living as of that year), the reverse directory listed her son-in-law at the same address, so I was able to figure (with some certainty) that she was, indeed, mine. Very helpful, especially considering how common a name “Smith” is.

  2. We did this in Macon, GA, but learned we needed a map current to time of directory to find correct locations. The city changed their street numbering system in a subsequent year, so present day map gave inaccurate information.

  3. Thanks for that reminder! People often share houses with relatives. I have used reverse directories for analyzing a corner building, What looks like a single – family house today, from the 1890’s to 1920’s had doors & addressses on 2 different streets. Different surnames, which did turn out to be cousins of the owner’s wife. A street map was crucial to that discovery. . . Directories take more time to check Online, than in book form, where it is faster – literally – to flip through, back and forth. Main habit to develop, is remembering to look for church locations, lodge meetings, and all the other ways directories should be checked, besides the alphabetical list of residents. Probably I should make my own checklist, just for directories.

  4. I used the reverse city directory this past weekend to show a new resident at the address where my target person had been for nearly 2 decades. I knew when she died, but finding a new resident at the address with a star (*, star meant a new person since the previous years listing), gave me indirect evidence of her death. (I got her obituary and death certificate also). Was fun to follow her through the city directories.

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