If a researcher merely extracted the data for Lafayette
D Richey and took no note of other Richeys, then a
good clue to kinships would be missed. Although Lafayette
is not in the household with Frank and Eliza J Richey
in any year, all lived at 3567 Downing in one year
or the other. There is surely a connection.
Compare Given Names
The rendition of a name may vary from year to year.
Frank A Richey of 1899 is listed as Franklin A Richey
in 1894. Lafayette D Richey of 1899 is Lafayette DeM
in 1894, giving the researcher new clues or better
Once individuals have been located in a city directory,
it is important to follow up with research on their
employers. In 1899, for example:
Lafayette is "fireman B&MRR." Business listings
in the directory identify B&MRR as the Burlington
& Missouri Railroad.
W. H. Richey is "asst B R Hall." Going to the
Hall listings in the city directory, one finds
this man identified as an undertaker and embalmer.
This occupational data can open up new sources of
records (railroad, funeral home, etc.) and can help
to prove relationships or separate the identities
of persons with the same names or initials.
& Glean Ownership Data
Most directories also have cross indexing by streets-i.e.,
householder or crisscross directories. Streets are
listed alphabetically and numerically, with family
head or business named for each address. Checking
these will identify neighbors. Crisscross directories
also reveal whether the resident is a tenant or homeowner.
In the latter case, real-estate records will be a
Check General Matter
City directories also list names and addresses of
asylums, cemeteries, churches, fraternal organizations,
hospitals, insurance companies, newspapers, railroads,
and schools. City maps, with ward boundaries, are
sometimes included. When the names of a street changed,
the next year's directory listed the change-an important
aid when trying to prove that a family is the same
family despite a different address.
Sometimes an addenda lists persons whose entries
were "too late for insertion" or lists deaths in an
epidemic year. Directories for smaller communities
often give individual dates of death and names children
with years of birth.
Cite Directory Fully
Full citations, including the names of publishers,
can be critical. Some cities have more than one directory
per year, published by different companies.
In short, directories offer a wide range of vital
clues to the researcher who carefully studies them
- line by line, page by page, and year by year!
Kathleen W. Hinckley, CGRS
This article was originally published in OnBoard,
BCG's educational newsletter and is protected by copyright.
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