Back to top

Find Your Ancestor’s Address & So Much More

Published on Wed, 03/07/2018 - 09:02am
Books and tablet on wood

Everyone wants to find that clue that can help to break a genealogy brick wall wide open. Sometimes it’s a letter from a relative’s attic, maybe a photograph, or information found in a city directory. A city directory? What’s that you may be asking? City directories were created and distributed by cities, towns, and counties across the United States. Pre-dating the telephone, these listings helped to find where people were living in a specific area. Unlike telephone books, city directories included more than just addresses. You can find spouse names, forwarding addresses for people who moved, and even death dates.

The Midwest Genealogy Center and the Mid-Continent Public Library have lots of resources to help you find and use city directories. HeritageQuest online, one of MCPL’s databases, provides access to United States city directories from 1821-1989. Remember that this does not mean that you will be able to find a city directory for every year in that range; but you’ll be surprised at how many you find. I was able to find death information on two separate ancestors using HeritageQuest’s city directories. These clues enabled me to find death certificates for both individuals and provided great research help! Another useful feature of HeritageQuest is that you can access it from home using an MCPL Access Pass.

If you are visiting MGC, we have resources available in house to help your city directory searches. MGC has a number of original city directories available in hard copy or on microfilm. To see what is in the city directory collection, browse the Missouri Directories--City, County, State, Telephone guide or the US and Foreign Directories--City, County, State, Telephone guide. MGC also provides access to Ancestry Library Edition, an in-library use only database, which has a city directory collection.

Next time you have an ancestor who seems to have disappeared; check a city directory. You never know what information you might find. Do you have a city directory success story to share?

Nicole S.
Midwest Genealogy Center

Add new comment

Plain text

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

Resources You May Also Like

Events You May Also Like

Introduction to Internet Genealogy

Mon, Sep 23 2019
6:30pm - 7:30pm
Registration Required
Discover the best genealogy websites for your research. This is a beginner-level class for adults. Basic computer literacy is needed to follow along.

Destroyed Records: Fire, Water and Thieves

Tue, Oct 1 2019
6:30pm - 7:30pm
Registration Required
When records are missing or destroyed, genealogists have to get creative and find other record collections that can answer their questions. Learn where to look for other under-utilized resources.

Using FamilySearch

Sat, Oct 12 2019
3:00pm - 4:00pm
Registration Required
Find out how to get the most out of using the FamilySearch website. Learn tips on searching records, using the research wiki, finding family trees, using the Family History catalog, and more.

Blogs You May Also Like


A Stitch in Time

My mom’s family lives in Australia, so most of their family heirlooms ended up with relative
Read More
Ducks in a row

Get Your Ducks in a Row

As a librarian, genealogist, and archivist, I love to put things in order, so this month has
Read More
MGC Lock-in

Late Night at MGC

If you could be locked in a library, what kind of library would it be?
Read More
save money

Get Healthy, Get Promoted, Get to the Library this New Year!

Make 2019 the year that you finally check off those recurring resolutions with a little help from
Read More

Was this page helpful? Yes No