Explore more than 800 almanacs and directories from across Great Britain. The collection includes trade directories, county guides, almanacs and general directories. Inside you will find the names of prominent people, tradesmen, people who held office, business owners and local civil servants. Discover your ancestor’s address and occupation or explore the history of your home address. The almanacs and directories stretch across three centuries.
Each record is available in a PDF format. Use the previous and next buttons are the top of the page to browse through the publication. The PDF search experience can be different from searching transcribed records. Use our search tips below to get the most out of this collection.
The detail in each record will vary depending on the publication. The majority of the publications are directories, which will include business listings and usually descriptions of the local area. In the records you may find a combination of the following information:
Additional detail found in these types of publications will provide a more in-depth study of your ancestor’s life and the local area.
To the left of the PDF, you will find the Transcription Box, which includes
Volume – the title of the publication
County – where the publication is based
Image number and image count – this will tell you where you are in the publication and help you to explore the publication further.
For a full list of all the titles available, view the Britain, directories & almanacs publication list available in the Useful links and resources section.
Explore more than 800 almanacs and directories which encompass three centuries of Great Britain's history. The collection is from Anguline Research Archives, Gould Genealogy, Yorkshire Ancestors, Eneclann, Devon Family History Society, and Explore York Libraries and Archives. For a full list of all the titles available, view the Britain, directories & almanacs publication list available in the Useful links and resources section.
Almanacs and directories are an excellent resource for anyone researching their family history and want to understand more about their ancestor’s life. They provide topographical accounts of towns, social statistics and comprehensive guides of towns or cities, as well as full listings of gentry, business owners, trades people, civil servants, church leaders, school teachers and much more. Furthermore, you can explore the history of your home by searching the publications by address, where you may discover previous proprietors.
The Britain, Directories and Almanacs includes a variety of sources,with Whitaker’s, Thom’s, Boyle’s, Kelly’s, and Pigot’s being among them. Some of the publications are general directories, while others are focused on a specific topic or trade. Below are some examples of the detail you can find in the records.
Colonial List, 1863 - Includes both lists of officers and those working within the civil establishment throughout the British Empire and geographical details and histories of the regions such as, Barbardos, Cape of Good Hope, Dominica, Malta, Nova scotia and Trinidad. In this edition, we discover ‘Sir Charles Nicholson who emigrated to Australia in 1834 and became a physician. He was later elected a member of the first legislative council of New South Wales in 1843 and was three times chosen for the office of speaker from 1845 to 1856. In 1861, he was the provost of the University of Sydney.’
Thom’s Official Directory for Great Britain & Ireland, 1914 – A directory for both Great Britain and Ireland, which includes social and economic statistics for all the countries involved, and a county-by-county directory of incumbents, industries, schools and more. In this directory, a background of Dundalk, Ireland is given with a description of the town. In addition, we read that, ‘The Exchange buildings contain the Town Hall and spacious public offices. A sum of £8,000 has been expended on the erection of these elegant buildings, which are now the property of the Urban Council. There are in the town, a distillery, two breweries, linen spinning-mill, flour mills, salt works, shipbuilding yards, two iron foundries, a Free Public Library, Technical Schools, and Electric Lighting Works belonging to the Urban Council.’ We can also find out the names of those holding important offices. For instance, we learn that the Town Clerk is Mathew Comerford, esq., and that Bernard Hamill, esq. is the Chairman of the harbour Commissioners.
Kelly’s Directory of Buckinghamshire, 1903 – Within this publication you will find a full directory of the ceremonial home county of Buckinghamshire. Inside the directory you can find an explanation of the parliamentary representation of Bucks: ‘Bucks formerly returned three members for the undivided county, but under the provisions of the Redistribution of Seats Act, 1885, it now returns three members in three divisions.’ The directory further clarifies the three divisions. This information is useful when you are searching for your ancestors in electoral registers and need to understand parliamentary districts of the county.
A large part of this collection comprises numerous Kelly’s directories, one of the most well-known publishers of directories. The founder was Frederic Festus Kelly, once the chief inspector of letter-carriers for the general post office. While chief inspector, he took over the publication of the London post office directory. He founded Kelly & Co and expanded the company over the decades that followed. They produced directories for many counties around the United Kingdom and continued to buy other publishers of directories. In 1897, Kelly & Co. became Kelly Inc. and continued to create directories until the 1970s.
In December 1870, The Era, a British weekly paper, wrote a review of Kelly’s Directory and described it as an institution that many would not know how to do without: ‘We cannot praise its literary attractions, but we can bear witness that the Editor must be both painstaking and patient. We cannot praise its artistic beauty, but we can comment the general getting-up and the clearness of the typography; and, above all, we can conscientiously declare it to be the most useful, if not the most entertaining, of Christmas books.’
Searching through a PDF (portable document format) is different from searching through fully transcribed record sets. Below are some tips to keep in mind while you search for your ancestors.
The search feature uses direct search. It will search for the exact word or phrase you type in the search field. The name variant option will not operate in this format.
All search results will bring you to the page on which your search word has been found and not to an individual transcript. You can then read through the page to find your result.
Digitisation of these records was completed through a method called optical character reader (OCR). This allows us to search all the text within one document. In some case, the image shows a thin part of the text on the opposite page. Therefore, the search function may discover your search term within the image, when in fact, the full text is on the opposite page. Use the previous or next button at the top of the image to read the full text.
A name search will return results which have the search terms on the same page within the document. This means that searching for John Smith will return pages where the names 'John' and 'Smith' occur. For this reason, your search may return the name William Smith or John Brown. By inserting quotations around the full name, the search function will locate the terms together, for example, “John Smith.”
To search for your ancestor by their name, write it as it would appear on the document. For example, if your relative was known as ‘Will’ it is likely that the name used for official records was ‘William.’
If you are unable to find your relative on your first search, you can try different name variations. A number of register books only use abbreviations for first names. For example, if your search is unsuccessful for William Smith, try W Smith or Wm Smith.
Perusing the PDF
If you wish to read through the whole document you are searching, then order the results by page number. You can start from the beginning of the document and read through to the end using the next button above the image.
Page numbers often correlate with the individual images of the documents rather than the page numbers used within the publication. Therefore page 1 starts with the cover page.