eResource Challenge Lite #5

Truly, spring is on the way! The calendar – and don’t forget Phil – said it will be so. Spring is associated with “renewal” – this may be your time to renew your commitment to the eResource Challenge Lite!

We congratulate Whitney W., February’s eResource Challenge Lite winner. Give us your response to March’s challenge in the comment box below – respond by March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day! – and you might be the lucky winner of our fabulous prizes.

This month’s challenge:

A patron comes in expecting your library to have old city directories. You don’t have physical copies but many are available elsewhere. Where?

This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Jess B.

    Historic Pittsburgh database! Goes up to 1945, and has an option to search by title/date

  2. Suzi W.

    If people are looking for phone numbers, A to Z database (in the buisness data bases) is a good resource.

  3. Caitlin

    Ancestry Library Edition offers city and area directories. Users can search their ancestor’s names and narrow down results by providing dates, possible locations where they lived, spouses’ names, and other details.

  4. Rita

    You can do a keyword, date, or title search of city directories on Historic Pittsburgh in the Texts section. That’s only for 1815-1945, though. For more recent 20th century directories, is the ticket. But for the most comprehensive coverage, additional historic directories are on microfilm; patrons can make a research request with the Pennsylvania Department at Main. City Directories (1813-1975) and telephone books (1880-2002) will be searched when specific names and years are provided. Before 1929 the City directories are searchable only by last name. There is a fee of $10 for 1-5 pages.

  5. Naomi

    A patron using the Main Library has the opportunity to use the resources of the Pennsylvania Department. In addition to Ancestry Library Edition and Historic Pittsburgh, they also have FOLD3–which is only available in the Pennsylvania Department. Fold3 provides access to US military records, naturalization records/indexes, city directories, historical newspapers and more.

  6. Mindy

    I thought this question was vague. One would have to do a reference interview. No years were given. I also thought which directory are we referring to? Is it phone? Or, is it local resources? I figured it could be phone or census related. Are the city directories from decades ago or 10 yrs ago? Some databases don’t have a lot of years listed. Historic Pittsburgh is one example of not having a lot of years listed. One can search Pittsburgh Census from 1850-1880. Ancestry Library
    Edition also has directories. The patron would have to use Ancestry Library in the library. The patron could also contact CLP’s Pennsylvania Department for help, too.

  7. Norene R.

    I not sure exactly what directories the patron is looking for, so I’d probably narrow it down before I started doing a search. I Googled the information that I was provided and came up with an online directory site that has numerous links to city and county directories. There is also a link on this site to the Historical Pittsburgh City Directories site.

  8. Pam

    The first thing I thought of was genealogical resources, so I went right to Ancestry Library where I found a quick link for “City Directories” on the home search page. A click on that link takes you to the “City and Area Directories” search page, which also has links for “Featured Data Collections.” One of these collections is “U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989.” A click on that link limits your search to that particular collection. Of course you would need more information from your patron concerning the location and time frame they are inquiring about to know whether this specific collection would be helpful. If you scroll down the page there is a nice overview of the database with information about what you can expect to find. The patron would have to be in the library to use the Ancestry Library edition. I also went to Cyndi’s List. Under her Categories heading is an alphabetical list including a link for “Directories: City, County, Address, etc.” While this is not a database to search directly, it takes you to a long list of resources that can help you with both finding and using a directory.

  9. Whitney

    Does anyone know if you can conduct a general search for Pittsburgh city directories on, without having to type in an individual’s name? If so, how would you conduct that search? Thank you!

    1. Dustin

      You can browse the city directories in Ancestry Library edition without doing a search. To do that you click on the “City Directories” link in the “Quick Links” section of the homepage. Use the “Browse Catalog” box on the right hand side of the page to select: US – PA – Pittsburgh – and the year. This will allow you to browse the Pittsburgh city directories (or any other listed city).

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