Postal and telephone directories, family histories and almanacs are fantastic resources that paint a picture of what life was like in the cities, towns, and villages your ancestors lived in at any given point in time. Some of the records provide information on specific trades and professions, while others reveal the titles and land holdings of your wealthier ancestors.
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There are more than 2.6 million records in this category. The record sets included in this category are mostly of interest to those with Canadian ancestors or ancestors who emigrated to Canada over the years. This collection includes directories of elected representatives and civil servants, businesses, transport, and of telephone numbers.
There are also histories of various provinces, counties, towns, and churches in Canada.
A number of record sets relating to European emigrants, settlers, and missionaries are included in this category, particularly the Scotch-Irish who went to live in Canada and various parts of the United States. Their influences in law and politics is written about in extracts from the Officers of the Scotch-Irish Society of America.
The phrase Scotch-Irish refers to settlers who were born in or lived in Ireland but whose earlier origins were in Scotland. They have also been referred to as "Scots-Irish," "Ulster Scots," and "Irish Presbyterians." Many thousands of Scotch-Irish immigrants came to America before 1776, with large-scale immigration beginning in 1718, due to such factors as high rents and religious persecution. Most of the Scotch-Irish came freely to the American colonies, but some were deported as prisoners or came as indentured servants. Others arrived with British Army regiments and stayed in the American colonies.
The most comprehensive online collection of historical Irish directories in the world can be found on Findmypast, dating back to 1783, including national, regional and local directories. National directories, like those by Pigot, Slater, and Thom, are usually organised by province. They list the principal office holders, gentry, professionals, tradesmen, hotels, schools, public institutions, churches, and even pubs for the cities and larger towns of Ireland. Regional and local directories concentrate on smaller towns and villages and usually include detailed introductions, as well as a full alphabetical directory of office-holders, professionals, merchants and tradesmen, farmers and other residents not listed by trade. Some of the directories on Findmypast are also devoted to particular groups, trades or the gentry.
Furthermore, there are Irish almanacs and newspapers abstracts, which feature filtered information from publications that is particularly useful to the family historian such as farming lists, society registers, obituaries and legal cases.
The record sets included in this category are an index of British business indexes, a dental surgeons’ directory, and a directory of house directors of UK companies. Trade directories only contain a bare listing of local businesses but Business Indexes of Britain 1892 – 1987 have at least a paragraph about each shop or company, often with a photograph of it or the proprietor, along with details of when and from whom the business was acquired. In addition, family members working in the business are usually listed and, if a person is prominent in local society, the entry often mentions membership of the corporation and leisure activities including involvement with clubs, charities and other institutions. This kind of information tells a lot about an individual's character and is extremely difficult to find elsewhere in such a comprehensive form. Kelly’s Handbook 1901 provides an alphabetical guide to more than 28,000 peers of the realm, titled, gentry, higher officials and principal landowners. Pigots Directory of Herefordshire 1835 includes over 3,100 records of locals of note in eight towns or districts in the county.
There are almost 1.2 million records of Australian and New Zealand directories and documents of interest to social history. Government Gazettes were weekly newspapers published by governments to communicate with officials and the general public. They’re useful to monitor the actions of the government, as well as valuable primary source documents for family historians, as they contain a vast amount of historical and genealogical information. Tens of thousands of ordinary people and localities are mentioned every year in Government Gazettes and they will help you reconstruct events and circumstances in the life of individuals and communities.
Examples of the types of information you will find are government notices, public works notices, land sales, tenders notices, appointees to government positions, appointments of magistrates and Justices of the Peace, crown land leases, deceased estates, dissolution of business partnerships, bankruptcy and insolvency, notices or rewards for lost or stolen property and stock, unclaimed letters and property, witnesses to executions and so much more.
Some of the other valuable resources include the Australian Handbook, which covers a wide variety of topics such as statistical information about Australian colonies, police, banking, emigration and more. The Strays Collection Australasia is a great tool if your ancestors married, lived or died away from their place of birth.