England Directories

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Directories are alphabetical lists of names and addresses. They list information for the year they are published. Directories first appeared in the early 17th century but were not compiled for places other than London until the 1760s. They usually show the name of a person, his or her address, and occupation. Directories usually list the head of the household. Directories can also include information such as:

  • City maps.
  • Indexes to streets.
  • Addresses of churches or cemeteries.

A person’s inclusion or omission in directories of successive years can show when he or she came to the city, left the city, or died. Knowing an individual’s address can help you search the census of a large city.

There are various types of directories:

  • Postal or commercial directories provide alphabetical lists of people living in an area, usually including those engaged in some kind of trade or profession.
  • Trade directories contain alphabetical lists of trades and professions and the people engaged in them.
  • Street directories have alphabetical lists of the principal streets and the people living there.
  • Court directories list the city officers, government officials, and "private" residents.
  • Law directories list judges, staff of various courts, lawyers, police, notaries, and registration officers.
  • Telephone directories give names, addresses, and telephone numbers of individuals and businesses. Current telephone directories are published by British TELECOM on microfiche.

Directories can also provide addresses for societies, libraries, newspapers, and other organizations. To find a current directory of this type, see:

Current British Directories. Revised Edition. Beckenham, Kent, England: CBD Research Ltd., 1985. (FHL book 942 E43c.)

Church directories give information and addresses for dioceses, parishes, and congregations.

The Family History Library has many directories. They are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under one of the following:




There are several bibliographies of directories listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:


The following is one such bibliography:

Shaw, Gareth, and Allison Tipper. British Directories and Guide to Directories Published in England and Wales (1850–1950) and Scotland (1773–1950). London, England: Leicester University Press, 1989. (FHL book 942 E43s.)

To locate a volunteer who will search some directories for you free of charge, visit the GENUKI Web site at:


From the above site:

Click [County of your choice].

Click Genealogy.

Click Look-up Exchange.

Web Sites



(England) -- Directories http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/browse?type=lcsubc&key=London%20(England)%20--%20Directories