SIX THINGS TO FIND IN CITY DIRECTORIES
1. Your Ancestor. And other family members. Sure, you’re going to look for your ancestor, but look for other family members, too. Some of them may have lived nearby, others across town. Then follow the family year-by-year to note changes in occupation, living arrangements, even deaths of a head of household. Add it all to a timeline so you can keep track of the family’s comings and goings.
2. Streets and maps. Street names can change over time – so can house numbers. To get a real look at your ancestor’s neighborhood, look for street (reverse) directories inside city directories. In some cases, you may even find maps of the city or town. Street directories will typically give you cross streets, which you can use to orient you on modern-day maps.
3. Churches and Clerics. Religious records are incredibly valuable for discovering dates, places, and family relationships. And for the years before states were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths, churches may be the only place to find that information. Use city directories to find the churches and clerics nearest to your ancestor.
4. Cemeteries. Check city directories for cemeteries near the homes of your relatives home at the time they lived there. They may point you to burial locations, possibly even a family plot, where you’ll find details about more than one family member.
5. Advertisements. Look at the ads carefully – you may discover more information about a family member’s business or place of business, names of photographers, banks, organizations, and other details that could appear elsewhere in your family’s history. Advertisements were a big source of revenue for directories.
6. Historical Information. City directories often included histories of the area, some with images of the city, too. All of this can give you a little more background on your family and their home life.
The directories below range from Goleta south to Carpinteria. In addition to these digitized directories, the Sahyun library has on its shelves printed directories covering many of the same cities as well as Santa Maria and Lompoc from 1886 through 1991. See the Sahyun Library Catalog for "Santa Barbara City Directories" for more city directories.