This guide is a selective list of directories. The emphasis is on publications having multiple years of coverage. The Library collection specializes in Delaware resources, but there are materials covering other areas. For example, the Library has a very good collection of city directories for Philadelphia.
Early directories in Delaware were published for the entire state of Delaware, rather than for cities.
Consult the Special Collections Department in the UD Library for more directories (http://www.lib.udel.edu/ud/spec/).
Search by Keyword:
Wilmington City Directory
Bradford County pennsylvania Directories
Search by Subject Keywords (prefix su:):
Philadelphia Pennsylvania Directories
philadelphia commerce directories
Subject keyword retrieves only records that have those words in the subject description.
Use the prefix or go to the Advanced Search box.
There are a few city directories available (free) on the internet. Some are scanned pages of the directory and others are transciptions of the list of names.
City Directories of the United States. Published by Primary Source Microfilm.
Huge set of filmed directories. The set is not at the UD Library. The UD Library has selected Delaware directories. Other directories can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan. For example: Center for Research Libraries. The University of Delaware Library is a member of Center for Research Libraries (CRL). Items from CRL can be borrowed through Interlibrary Loan.
Guide to the set:
City Directories of the United States, 1860-1901: Guide to the Microfilm Collection (Call Number: Z5771.2 .C58 1984)
County Land Ownership Atlases
These atlases show detailed information about land in rural areas and often include property owners’ names.
Like city directories, the atlases were published by commercial publishers. The Library of Congress has a huge collection.
Land ownership maps are also called cadastral maps.
Sources for the microfilm/microfiche set:
Bibliography of American Directories through 1860. By Dorothea N. Spear.
The early microfilming project (Segment I) was based on the publications listed in this bibliography. The directories are in microfiche format.
The Library has the microfiche of Wilmington, Delaware, for 1814 (Call Number: Microfiche S 324) and 1857 (Call Number: Microfiche S 325)
The next microfilming projects (Segments II and III) contain more directories than list in Spear. The projects covered up to 1901 and the directories were published as microfilm.
The Library has the microfilm of Wilmington, Delaware, for 1882/1883 to 1898/1899 (Call Number: Microfilm no. 2876)
Wilmington, Delaware, 1889 City Directory. DistantCousin.com website.
Example of a residential and business directory.
City directories are much like phone books. They typically have a list of both residents and businesses. There are also business directories and farm directories.
Some directories have a description of the town, including street guides, government description and listings, lists of churches, schools, libraries, charitable association, fraternal orders, and more.
When available, it is useful to consult more than one directory. Each may have some piece of information not in the other.
Business directories typically do not have indexes by people's names. The index is by business category. The index identifies the pages where those particular businesses are covered.
The listing identifies the owner or proprietor and the street address.
In addition to the names and addresses of businesses and persons, directories may help you understand something about the place or the time.
There may be listings of associations, churches, schools, government offices, charitable societies, fraternal organizations, and more.
Advertisements can tell you about the goods and services available.
In Delaware, "city directories" often covered New Castle county and in some cases, the entire state.
Consult the Special Collections Department in the UD Library for more directories.
The following is a list of print and microfilm/fiche in the UD Library and online:
B.A., History. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1973.
M.S., Library Science. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 1981.