Your Guide to Finding Ancestors
There is a major microform set called City Directories of the United States", which is marketed to libraries and many libraries own portions; few own the whole set.
The place most likely to have book or film copies of city directories for a town is the public library of that town. Often state libraries and larger libraries will also have city directories for towns in that state. To find a library in the town you are researching, use LibWeb. In most cases the public libraries are the first place to check, but state and academic libraries also often have sets of city directories. The Bentley Library has many city directories for Michigan cities and towns
To find City Directories in the catalog of the Family History Library, search by locality, then check the topic "directories" -- remember, sometimes a directory will cover a county, but most often it will be listed under the city location. Here is a little more information on finding city directories in the catalog of the Family History Library.
Genealogy Research Associates offers a helpful site, that includes lists to available directories for various states, research guidance and a bibliography of resources: City Directories of the United States of America.. It is not yet complete, but the intention of this website is to " identify all printed, microfilmed, and online directories, and their repositories, for the United States. This site will answer these questions: does a directory exist for a locality? If it does, where can it be found?" I found few, if any, links to online directories. The list serves as an unofficial union list of City Directories. For many there is an option to order a lookup in the city directory by clicking the "order copy" icon on the right. The price of the lookups (plus shipping and handling) seem to me to be on the high end of a reasonable charge, but if all other efforts fail, it is good to know this service is available.
This excellent site keeps track (as best one can) of the city directories that are going up online: Historical Directories Online . Keep current with new additions by subscribing to or visiting her Online Historical Directories blog.
Some City Directories have been digitized on Google Books. and the Internet Archive.
I love using the City Directories at DistantCousin.com ! It is so easy to see and find the breadth of information available in each one.
City directories are included in subscription databases Ancestry.com, Heritage Quest and Footnote.com. Some libraries have subscriptions to each of these.
You can purchase CDs of some old city directories.
There is a city directories mailing list for those who want to request lookups and are willing to do look-ups for this area.
Cyndi's List: City Directories
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