Returns: Outdoor or Indoor Book Drops Only. Holds Pick-Up: In-Branch Self Checkout, Curbside or Drive-Up Service. In-Branch: Technology services, browsing collection, self checkout. Virtual Branch is available 24/7.

Please visit the Locations page for current operating hours. For more information on current services and how the Library is keeping customers and staff safe, visit the MCPL COVID-19 Information and Updates page.

Back to top

Did You Check the International Phone Books?

Did You Check the International Phone Books?

January 28, 2021

Perhaps you have walked through the doors of the Midwest Genealogy Center many times, checked its website many times, and are fairly familiar with the Library’s collection. Nevertheless, there are still resources in the MGC building considered to be “hidden resources.” International phone books could be one of them! Did you know MGC has them? They sleep neatly on the shelves on the first floor, close to your view and reach.  

These might be helpful when you search for anything related to your immigrant ancestor. For international research, you should start with your ancestor who lived on both continents. You want to connect this ancestor to sources where they came from. Your goal is to find their birth record. Keep in mind that your ancestor possibly first lived in Canada before moving to the U.S.   

International phone books can guide us and ensure we’re on the right track and have the right place of origin. Often, family descendants would still live in the same town or village as the ancestor who moved to America. So, for German ancestors, for example, MGC has German phone books for the late 1970s and early 80s. The collection is not complete, but it’s still worth checking.  

You can also possibly place and confirm family descendants who stayed in Canada, as was often the case. For example, one brother from Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or former Czechoslovakia, would go south to the U.S., and another brother would stay in Canada, where he would later move to a larger city. He or his descendants would be confirmed in the Canadian phone books MGC has.   

Many Jewish immigrants also considered the U.S. to be their final destination, but first travelled to and lived in Canada. The descendants of those siblings who stayed in Canada would often appear in the Canadian phone books. Furthermore, the later generations of those who went north after the American Revolution might be listed in these Canadian phone books as well.  

If this sparked your interest, you can find, for example, many more German phone books and city directories through this German website. Open it in Google Chrome, switch to English, and click “Do Research,” then “Project Databases,” and “Address Books.” They date back to the 1800s—some even to the 1700s—and show status or occupation. Translation tools may also be helpful while you access these. Are you also curious how many times your name appears in German phone books? Type your name and check it out here.   

Call us if you have any other questions! We want to hear from you. 

Iveta B.
Midwest Genealogy Center


I was not aware of the international directories at MGC. Wow! Good to know. I found my one ancestor name listed 999 times. Exciting to be able to have that information.
Thanks, Iveta!

From Jo Perrin (not verified)
Thu, 02/04/2021 - 12:20pm

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

View All Blogs

Read Similar Blogs:

Resources You May Also Like

Events You May Also Like

Census Records Research (Zoom)

Tue, Mar 16 2021
2:00pm - 3:00pm Central
Virtual Event
The U.S. Federal Census is a great place to start tracing your ancestors. The first Federal Population Census was taken in 1790, and a census has been taken every 10 years since that date.

Blogs You May Also Like

graduation hat

The Good Old Days

Hearing Elgar’s “Pomp and Circumstance” again brings back the memory of caps and gowns and the walk down the a
Read More
bread food plate

Let’s Get Cooking!

Holidays are a time for gathering with family and friends.
Read More
Peoria State Hospital

Hidden Away

When researching your family history, have you ever come across someone who seems to disappear?
Read More
Where in the world…?

Where in the world…?

One of the goals of most genealogists with immigrant ancestors is the elusive: “When did they arrive in the Un
Read More

Was this page helpful? Yes No