City and county directories are similar to present-day telephone books and are useful records for locating people. They were often published annually, listing heads of households, employed household members, and their occupations and addresses. They can be used with census records or as substitutes for them.
Directories are particularly helpful for research in large cities where a high percentage of the people were renters, new arrivals, or temporary residents. In fact, a directory may be the only source that lists a person if he was not registered to vote and did not own property. Most households were included because the directories were created for salesmen, merchants, and others interested in contacting residents of an area.
Directories have other clues that may require careful study to discover. For example, people in similar or related occupations were often relatives, in-laws, or friends. A year-by-year study of directories may reveal the movements of ancestors and relatives within the city and sometimes to or from other cities.
Examples of directories that may be found in an archive are: city directories, telephone directories, church directories, occupational directories, farmers directories, or rosters of society members.
Directories of heads of households have been published for major cities in Florida.
Resources for Florida Directories
Libraries and Archives
The Florida Historical Society and the Florida State University have various Florida city directories. Local libraries often have city directories for their areas. See PublicLibraries.com for a list of contact information for these libraries and other college libraries.
Ancestry.com ($) has Florida directories available online in its U.S. City Directories collection.
The Family History Library
The Family History Library has city directories for several cities. For example:
1904-1935. The Family History Library has a set of microfilms with Miami City directories 1904-1935 (beginning on Family History Library film 1759897).
1936-1970. The Family History Library has directories for Miami for the years:
The library has directories for Jacksonville covering the years 1931, 1941, 1946, 1950, 1953 and 1971 Family History Library books 975.912/J1 E4p.
- US City Directories This web site identifies printed, microfilmed, and online directories and their repositories.