Local history collections
- Parish magazines
- History of directories (You are here)
- Books and pamphlets
- Journals and newsletters
History of directories
The origins of trade and street directories can be traced back to the seventeenth century. It was not until the late eighteenth century that they became common. They were aimed at the commercial, business and upper classes. It is these sections of society whose names are listed in them.
Most of the directories follow a standard format with a brief history of the town or village followed by a list of the main inhabitants.
From the mid nineteenth century, directories begin to include street directories for larger towns. By the late nineteenth century, the entries for major towns usually comprise a street-by-street listing followed by an alphabetical listing and a classified listing.
By the twentieth century, the street entries are much fuller with an entry for almost every house. Women are normally only listed if they were householders in their own right or ran their own business.
The last trade directory produced in this format was in 1974. When using directories for family history purposes, the directories list only around 40 percent of the households in any town or village.