City Directory Research Challenges and Solutions
By Hank Burnham
VP of Data, Content and Solutions
City directories are a valuable tool in determining current and former occupants, owners, business names and prior use of speciﬁc addresses. Publishing of city directories for major U.S. cities began in the 1800s. Many of the earliest directories did not include street or address sections but became more robust over time. In the 1950s and 1960s, many metropolitan areas were covered in cross directories, which included a name section, street section, and a numeric telephone section. For these reasons, city directories are extremely useful when conducting environmental due diligence. In addition, ASTM E1527-13 lists “local street directories” as one of the standard historical sources used to conduct a Phase 1 Site Assessment. However, conducting this type of research comes with its challenges.
Learn about obstacles a researcher may encounter and ways
in which they can accurately uncover useful historical information from city directories.
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