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A directory is defined as a “book containing names, addresses, and occupations of inhabitants.” It may also be “any list or compilation, usually in book or pamphlet form, of persons, professional organizations, firms or corporations.” Several types of directories have been published in the United States over the last two hundred years including: city directories, telephone directories, county and regional business directories, professional, organizational, and religious directories, post office directories, and street directories. Directories have tremendous value to genealogists as both an original record and as a reference aid.
The sections below provide information about Nebraska directories. For further information about directories in general, see United States Directories.
- 1878. Wolfe, J.M. Wolfe's Mercantile Guide, Gazetteer and Busines Directory of Cities, Towns, Villages, Stations, and Government Forts, Located upon the Lines of the Following Named Railroads: Union Pacific, Ohamha & Northwestern, Sioux City & Pacific, Omaha & Republican Valley, Colorado Central, Utah Northern, Utah Central, Utah Western, Utah Southern, Bingham Canyon & Camp Floyd, Wahsath & Jordan Valley, and American Fork Railroad and towns in the Blackhills. Omaha, Nebraska: Omaha Republican Book and Job Printing, 1878. FHL film 1004514 item 3.
Statewide directories for Nebraska were published periodically from 1882 to 1917. The 1886 directory was the first to list farmers in addition to businesses. It was compiled from the agricultural schedule of the 1885 census, and thus it is a partial index to that census (see the Census article). The directories have been microfilmed and are available for purchase from the Nebraska State Historical Society.
- Ancestry.com ($) has Nebraska directories in their U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 collection. The following cities are currently included: Beatrice, Columbus, Fremont, Hastings, Kearney, Lexington, Lincoln, Norfolk, North Platte, Omaha, Scotts Bluff, and York.
- Distant Cousin.com has a 1914 Omaha, Nebraksa city directory.
- US City Directories identifies printed, microfilmed, and online directories and their repositories.
The Family History Library (FHL)
The Family History Library has an excellent collection of Nebraska city directories on microfilm up through 1935. The cities of Beatrice, Hasting, Kearney, Lincoln, Norfolk, and Omaha are well represented. The Library also has printed directories for some select Nebraska cities that range from the 1950s to the 1990s.
To find out what records are available at the Library, do a "Place-names" seach in the FamilySearch Catalog. Search for:
- Nebraska - Directories
- Nebraska, [County] - Directories
- Nebraska, [County], [City] - Directories
Libraries, Archives and Societies
"Most libraries, historical societies, and archives at the state level have fairly extensive collections of in-state directories and may also have directories from major out-of-state cities." The Nebraska Historical Society has one of the finest collections of Nebraska directories in the state. The Nebraska State Genealogical Society's book library housed at the Beatrice Public Library has a great collection of Nebraska and Kansas directories.
- Henry Campbell Black, Black’s Law Dictionary: Definitions of the Terms and Phrases of American and English Jurisprudence, Ancient and Modern, 5th ed. (St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Co., 1979), 415, “directory.”
- Remington, Gordon L., "Directories," in Loretto Dennis Szucs and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, editors, The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006), chap. 8, p. 327.