Tracing Immigrants Origin Directories
City and telephone directories are useful for localizing an uncommon surname, especially in Italy, England, Scotland, and Wales. Online directoriescan also help locate people. With such tools, you may search for a name from the entire country. While this approach locates present-day people with the same surname, you may find relatives of the emigrant or other people interested in your research. Often families with the same surname (especially an uncommon surname) know the area where the family originated.
The Family History Library has many nineteenth-century city directories from major cities of several countries. These directories may identify the emigrant, if he or she lived in that city. They also indicate how common the surname was in the region where the city was located. To use older directories to localize a surname, search all available city directories from the country of origin. This is usually easiest when used with other sources, such as the International Genealogical Index or surname books, and when you have narrowed the search to a part of a country. Note how often the surname appears in comparison to the total names (or pages) in the directory. Uncommon surnames are usually most strongly represented in one or two cities. Directories are best used as clues to the region where the name is common. Most emigrants did not live in cities for which directories were printed.