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Directories, Trade, Professional, Telephone & Street, including Scotland

Nature of Source

Directories contain listings of prominent people, local officials and traders in a village or town usually with maps and a geographical and topographical description of the place. Some deal with a specific occupation or trade which might include biographies. Most directories will provide a history of the place and descriptions of local amenities such as schools, workhouses and churches and other places of worship.

Some directories were published in the late 1700 but most county and town/city directories began from about 1800. The first recognisable directory appeared in 1677 with the publication compiled by Samuel Lee called the ‘The little London directory of 1677. The Oldest Printed List of the Merchants And Bankers of London’. The publication can be read online or downloaded from the Internet Archive.

Address listings can be useful for locating census returns and can also be used as a limited census substitute. The most well known publishers of directories include Pigot, Slater, Kelly (most noted for the Post Office Directory), White and Bartholomews. Also consult directories specialising in a particular trade or profession. Some directories include every resident or building (especially London) however, telephone directories up to the 1960s mainly contain the names of the more wealthy who could afford to own a telephone.

Many directories are freely available to read online or download at the Internet Archive.

See also
Census Returns (England, Wales, Channel Islands & Isle of Man)
Fire Insurance Registers, Plans and Maps
Surname Origins and Distribution

Where Found

Guildhall Library (Their holdings of directories include an extensive collection of Kelly's directories)
The National Archives Library
The Victoria and Albert Museum (National Art Library trade catalogues collection)
Society of Genealogists (Directories)
County Record Offices (ARCHON Directory: Find the details of a UK archive from a searchable list of over 2,500 archives The catalogue can be found on the TNA Discovery home page)
BT Archives (Historical phone books from 1880. The series from 1880 to 1984 is available online at
London Metropolitan Archives
National Library of Scotland (Published directories)
The Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies (Trade Directories collection. The catalogue of trade directory holdings can be found here)
Bishopsgate Institute Library
(The Library holds a collection of around 50,000 books, pamphlets, illustrations, photographs and maps covering the social and cultural history of London, with particular reference to Bishopsgate and Spitalfields The library also has a collection of press cuttings, London guidebooks and trade directories)

Period Covered

1677 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Names, addresses, occupations, place names, maps. Useful for house histories.

Further References

Dobson, David. The People of the Scottish Burghs: Kirkcaldy, 1600-1799: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010

Dobson, David. The People of the Scottish Burghs: Dundee, 1600-1799: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009

Dobson, David. The People of the Scottish Burghs: Perth, 1600-1799: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009

Dobson, David. The People of the Scottish Burghs: Greenock, 1600-1799: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010

Dobson, David. The People of Edinburgh, 1725-1775: Genealogical Publishing Company,

Dobson, David. The People of Glasgow, 1725-1775: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2012

Dobson, David. The People of Stirling, 1600-1799: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010

Mills, Dennis. Rural Community History from Trade Directories: University Of Hertfordshire Press, 2006

Newington-Irving, N J N. Directories and Poll Books, including Almanacs & Electoral Rolls, in the Library of the Society of Genealogists: Society of Genealogists, 1995

Norton, Jane Elizabeth. Guide to the National and Provincial Directories of England and Wales, Excluding London, Published Before 1856: Royal Historical Society, 1950

Shaw, Gareth & Tipper, Alison. British directories : A Bibliography and Guide to Directories Published in England and Wales (1850-1950) and Scotland (1773-1950): Leicester University Press, 1988

Websites (Listing of free resources) (Research Wiki: Directories in England and Wales) (Trade directories and telephone books at Guildhall Library) (Online Historical Directories Website: Links to online city directories covering Canada, Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States) (National Library of Scotland Guide: Directories) (Victorian London A-Z Street Index) (London Street name changes between 1929 and 1945) (London Postal Districts and Area Names) (The Lost London Street Index) (Links to companies and organisations selling trade and commercial directories on CDs) (UKGDL Occupations/Trades/Apprentices: Links to online transcriptions records dealing with a variety of trades and occupations with some data extracted from trade and street directories)

Online Databases

National Coverage (U.K., City and County Directories, 1600s-1900s. Many directories are named after the publishers, such as Pigot and Kelly. Most directories originally included maps. Over time, many of these maps were removed. Where still available as part of a directory, the maps are included in this database. The dataset includes the historic British telephone directories from the BT Archives, 1890-1984)
(Britain, Directories & Almanacs. Explore 122 almanacs and directories from Great Britain and Ireland. The collection includes trade directories, county guides, almanacs and general directories. Find the names of prominent people, tradesmen, people who held office, business owners and local civil servants. The collection includes 90 volumes of late 19th and early 20th Kelly's Directories and Thom’s Official Directory for Great Britain & Ireland, 1914)
(London Post Office Directories 1842, 1851 and 1861. Browse over 1.5 million records from three London Post Office Directories) (Full and snippet view directories available) (English, Scottish and Irish trade directories including Slater's Commercial Directories and Pigot's Directories as well as the Post Office Records collection) (Historical Directories of England & Wales: A collection of digitised trade directories, part of the University of Leicester's Special Collections Online, covering England and Wales from the 1760s to the 1910s. The section Historical Directories Help contains useful information on using directories for research purposes. The funding for the project ended in 2004 and no further directories have been added to the site since then) (Trade, Residential & Telephone: A variety of trade directories covering a number of English counties transcribed or browsable covering the 18th 19th and 20th centuries. Directories include: UK Telephone Directory, 1899-1900; Post Office National Directory, 1907) (SoG Data Online: Pike's directories: Coverage includes 19the century editions for Aberdeen, Battersea, Berwick on Tweed, Boston and Spalding, Carlisle, Colchester, Darlington, Edinburgh, Gateshead, Hackney, Ipswich, Kings Lynn, Loughborough, Morpeth, Greenwich and Deptford) (The Parish Register Transcription Society. Indexes and transcriptions of trade directories. See website for county coverage)
(MyHeritage: Compilation of Published Sources. This collection includes a compilation of thousands of published books ranging from family, local and military histories, city and county directories, school, university and hospital reports, church and congregational minutes and much more. All records include images of the book's pages) (Includes directories covering England and Scotland)
London (Westminster Directory, 1774) (Ancestry: London, City Directories, 1736-1943. This database is a collection of various types of directories held by the London Metropolitan Archives and Guildhall Library including Commercial and Trade directories including Pigot’s and Kelly’s; Court Directories listing wealthy residents and government officials; London Post Office London Directories)
(Historical Directories of England & Wales: A collection of digitised trade directories, part of the University of Leicester's Special Collections Online. London coverage includes Post Office London Directories and Kellys) (Kent's Directory for the cities of London and Westminster, & Borough of Southwark, 1794) (Kent's Directory for the year 1740 covering the cities of London and Westminster and the borough of Southwark) (London Merchants of 1677)
(SoG Data Online: Pike's directories: Coverage includes 19the century editions for Battersea, Hackney, Greenwich and Deptford)
Regions (Pigots Directory of Herefordshire, 1835) (Mainly Birmingham, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire. Includes some neighbouring counties & some UK wide coverage) (Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941 including Warwickshire Directory, 1900; Birmingham Directory, 1855) (Reading Telephone Directory; Bournemouth Telephone Directory, 1940; Chelmsford Telephone Directory, 1939; Colchester Telephone Directory, 1939; Southend Telephone Directory, 1939; Portsmouth Telephone Directory, 1940; Southampton Telephone Directory, 1940; Salisbury Telephone Directory, 1940; Winchester Telephone Directory, 1940; Bishop's Stortford and District Telephone Directory, 1939; Isle of Wight Telephone Directory, 1940; Nottingham, Leicester and Derby, Classified Telephone Directory, 1939; Ipswich Telephone Directory, 1939; Dorking Local Telephone Directory, 1939) (Transcriptions of traders in the Welsh town of Carnarvon extracted from trade directories) (Pdf downloads of Southampton trade and street directories covering the 19th and 20th centuries) (Norfolk Sources: Trade Directories of Norfolk, Derham, Great Yarmouth, Norwich and Thetford, various dates between 1842 and 1932) (Pickard's Pink Pages for Warwickshire: Pigots 1835 directory of Coventry)
(Sheffield Indexers: Trade Directories: Online searchable trade directories including Pigot's, White's, Slater's and the Universal British Directory)
(The Weald of Kent, Surrey and Sussex: Lists of named individuals extracted from sources including census returns and directories from towns and villages in the region as well as maps, pictures, books and documents) (Family History Societies Online: Worcestershire Directories)
(The OGRE Online: Selection of trade directories in Wales)
(Welsh Almanac Collection. Browsable collection of Welsh almanacs from 1681 to 1781. An almanac is an annual publication that includes information such as weather forecasts, farmers’ planting dates, tide tables, and tabular information often arranged according to the calendar) (Online Parish Clerks: The project is run by volunteers who collect and transcribe parish records for a chosen Parish and make the data available for free online. The range of information covered includes Apprentice Indentures, Census Returns, Parish Registers, Bastardy Bonds, Settlement Certificates & Removal Orders, Militia/Muster records, Directories, Land Tax Assessments, Workhouse/Poor Law records, Churchwardens Accounts, Tithe Apportionments, Wills, Poor Rate Payers, Lay Subsidies, Protestation Returns, MIs, Church Memorials and Hearth Tax records. Old parish maps and photos are often included)
Scotland (AddressingHistory: The site allows users to search Edinburgh Post Office Directories from 1784, 1865 and 1905 by name, place or profession and view the results on a modern map with historical map overlays. It is also possible to view the original directory page)
(Scotland Post Office Directories. Explore thousands of pages of directories and discover your Scottish ancestry. The directories will reveal your ancestor’s occupation and residence) (Scottish Trade Directories, 1825-early 19th century) (National Library of Scotland: Scottish Directories digitised and available for download) (National Library of Scotland: Scottish Post Office directories: Online access to directories for the period 1773 to 1911 covering 28 of Scotland's towns and counties)
(Scottish Directories including Post Office Directories covering Glasgow and Aberdeen)

CD Roms

Archive CD Books (County and country-wide coverage. A number of titles covering directories are available as digital downloads including the Post Office Bath Directory covering editions between 1866-1905)
Stepping Stones (County coverage and the Universal British Directory 1793-1798)
Your Old Books & Maps (county coverage)
JiGrah Resources (Town, City and County directories)
S & N Genealogy Supplies (County wide coverage)
Anguline Research (County wide coverage)
UK Genealogy Archives (County wide coverage)
Yorkshire Ancestors (Selection of Trade Directories, Post Office Directories) (Mainly Birmingham, Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire and Shropshire. Includes some neighbouring counties & some UK wide coverage) (C19th Trades Directories: a resource for family historians, local historians and education. Transcribed entries of names and addresses extracted from trade directories covering all the counties of Britain, North and South Wales, Isle of Man, Ireland and some counties of low land Scotland. Prepared and maintained by Dr David Foster)
West Surrey Family History Society (London Telephone Directory January 1911; Outer London [Surrey] Telephone Directory January 1954) (Scanned historical and genealogical county book collections on DVD including parish registers, marriage allegations/licenses, directories, paupers in workhouses in 1861, lists of emigrants from England to the USA and Caribbean 1773-76, visitations, poll books. See web site for county coverage and source material)

Many local groups have produced copies of directories.