AJC file photo

City directories offer wealth of information for genealogy buffs

City directories are some of the most important resources for genealogists and should not be overlooked.

There are some caveats. Directories only list people who lived or worked within a city’s limits. So you need to know where the official city boundaries were. And while larger American cities definitely had city directories published, smaller places didn’t after a certain point.

My hometown of Columbus, Ga., had one published in 1859, then did not have a steady run until the early 1870s, continuing until fairly recently. Some larger cities, like Chicago, quit publishing them in the 1930s.

City directories were a business and were always privately compiled and published. They contained information on where residents lived and worked. As time went on, some listed children and other unique details, such as death dates of recently deceased residents. The directories are the only record of some people, especially if they died before the next census.

Directories can be found in the reference departments of public libraries, at a local historical society/history center or archives, and especially now online. Ancestry.com has a large number of digitized U.S. City Directories on the site. The Library of Congress is the depository for many volumes and is worth checking for the existence of a directory. So check out your city of interest. Also see uscitydirectories.com or search online for information about directories.

Dealers of old, rare book at AJC Decatur Book Festival

The Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association will once again be at the AJC Decatur Book Festival at the Ebster Gymnasium, 105 Electric Ave., Decatur. The organization’s Georgia Book and Paper Fair will be held on Saturday, August 31, from 10 a.m. until 6 p. m. and Sunday, September 1, from noon until 5 p.m. This will be a good time to look for books on Georgia history and genealogy, as well as other topics. See gaba.net for further information.

Cobb Genealogical Society celebrates 40 years

The Cobb County Genealogical Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary this summer. Check out the society’s quarterly at a genealogical library and attend one of the monthly meetings. For further information, see cobbgagensoc.org.

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Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P. O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.

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