The guide to researching your family history.

Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG
Cameo Family History

A series to lead you through the process of discovering your family’s story in simple steps, with some tips and tricks to help you through, round or over brick walls.

Part 12 – Trade Directories

Today we are used to being able to locate goods and services through a variety of means: local newspapers, publications such as Consett Magazine, and the Internet. Those of us who are somewhat older will remember Yellow Pages and the like. However, such sources of information are nothing new and before the advent of the above, local trade directories were a common resource for local people and services.

These were published in book form as commercial enterprises by a number of publishers. Businesses had to pay to appear – which means that these records are not complete. Nevertheless, they provide an excellent source of information on your ancestors and the environment in which they lived.

If your ancestor was in business, you can follow their listing over time to see how long it lasted and how it evolved. You can also trace how certain businesses and premises changed hands.

Typically, a directory entry for a town will include a brief description of the place, followed by details of local facilities such as churches, schools, postal and carrier services. There can then be a list of private residents. There will also be a list of trades and businesses each giving names and addresses for people in those trades.

Trade directories typically date from around the end of the 18th century, starting with the major cities and then extending coverage to the wider area.

An excellent collection of historical directories is available online via the University of Leicester Special Collections website (free). Most main libraries and county archives also have a good collection of local trade directories in their local studies collections.

Tel: 07855 556 384
Catherine Meades BSc DipGen QG


Facebook: @cameofh

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