31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 15

31 Days to Better Genealogy – Day 15

I’m taking Amy Crow’s challenge for 31 Days to Better Genealogy and blog Amy’s questions, with my answers; I plan to make one blog post, adding daily. Hopefully by the end of the 31 days, I will learn how to better solve some of my genealogy questions. If you haven’t signed up yet, just click on the link below… never too late to catch up!

31 Days to Better Genealogy by Amy Johnson Crow gives you practical steps to make your research more productive. Whether you are just beginning to climb your family tree or have been doing this for years, you can adapt the tips and methods in 31 Days to Better Genealogy to suit your needs.

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Day 15 – Use City and County Directories

Yay Amy! I have used used these before and found great finds!

In searching for my husband’s grandparents years ago at the local library, I was excited at what I found. Those directories gave me their addresses, where they lived, his occupation, who was in the household – and sometimes even where they worked, often noting if they were a widow, and if the wife didn’t work… listed her as homemaker.

directory

Here is my husband’s grandparents on a city directory. Their home address is listed; the children living home were listed and where they worked. The letter “r” stands for residence, “S” stands for single, “h” stands for home. Neither grandparent worked at that time.

insalaco-1962-city-dir-ansonia-shelton

In the 1962 city directory it lists Giacinta Insalaco as a “wid” of Stephen. If you were looking to pinpoint a date of death – this is where the city directory might be of help.

insalaco-1929-city-dir-ansonia-shelton

In the 1929 city directory it lists Stephen Insalaco as an “emp” – employee – of the SB & Co. Inc: At present, the only company that comes to mind is the Shelton Basket Co. of Shelton. His daughter Mary worked there as a bookkeeper – did he work there previously? (Since, I’ve learned that S&B Co., Inc. stands for Sidney & Blumenthal Co., Inc. of The Shelton Looms; manufacturers of woven cloth – located at 237-71 Howe Ave., Shelton, CT.)

From Amy’s email this morning, I learned that the first city directory published was in London – in 1588! Wow! Just goes to show you that people wanted to keep records! The first one published in the United States was in Philadelphia – in 1785, and even that is great. I will have to check the southern records to see when they began; that will be a big help in locating their residence and comparing to the census records.

I never knew they began that early – Did You?

I was super excited to read that the city directories weren’t just for “city folks”, but they also included the “country folks”. So there’s really hope for me in finding my southern “dirt farmers”, Gee – Haw….

Another thing Amy mentioned, that gave me food for thought… “Search for lists of local schools and churches in the directory; sometimes they even published short histories of the area; maps of the streets and area; local advertisements, maybe even your ancestor owned a business; local organizations and societies – did they belong?

All these years…Why was I racking my brain trying to figure out what the abbreviations stood for in the directories… Amy reminded me that there usually is a “Key to Abbreviation” section; why do I always make things harder for myself?

I first found city directories at the local library, often spending the entire afternoon absorbed in them, documenting the years of residence. Today, many are on Ancestry and Family Search. Amy also mentioned to check the catalogs of the state library and historical societies of the areas you are searching – I have never done that. Great idea Amy! That darn card catalog always intimidated me at the library, guess that’s why I try and ignore it online too.

card-catalog-doc

In searching for a photo of a card catalog, I found this awesome “info card” at the New York Society Library; it opened in 1754 by a group of six individuals – as there was no library opened to the public in the city.

I was quite taken back in reading on their page that the Library is going to do away with their online catalog! WHAT! In this age of technology – they are now forcing us to come to the library – to flip through those drawers of catalog cards. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? I do enjoy going to libraries, but time is not always on my side… are they open at 3 a.m.?

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Are You Ready to Search?

I have so many new ideas, thanks to Amy, that I don’t know where to start first… as I want to do them all at once! Hmm… maybe there should be a button like the Staples one of “That’s Easy” – but maybe ours should say…. “Thanks Amy.”

Click Here For More 31 Days to Better Genealogy

© 2016, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

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