City Directories

City directories fill in gaps in our research by providing information on our ancestors during time periods not covered by other records. We can see where are ancestor lived, possibly marital status, or a hint at migration or death, as well as occupational information.

1859 Philadelphia Directory

1859 Philadelphia Directory

According to the 1850 Census, John Hagey of Philadelphia, PA was a confectioner, as were other members of his household who served the same occupation. The same John Hagey is employed as a clockmaker in 1860. Upon initial review, this appeared to be a drastic change in occupation, but using Philadelphia city directories, the answer was found.

In the 1838 Commercial City Directory, John Hagey owned a clock, watch, and jewelry business, but by the 1840 directory, he’s a confectioner in the Hagey & Nice Company that specializes in confectioners. From 1840 to 1860, his various sons are also in the directory as confectioners. The 20 year snapshot of John Hagey’s company and life provided in the city directories shows a man who shared his business with family and may have returned to his previous profession of clockmaker as he aged.

To access the Genealogy Center’s listing of city directories, you can search the microtext catalog or search the print catalog using search terms of town, state, “directory.”

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One Response to City Directories

  1. Dawne says:

    To be even more specific about searching, I have found it most effective to use the “advanced search” and change three of the lines to “word or phrase,” putting the state on one line, the county on the second, and the word “directory” on the third.

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