“Directory: A book containing one or more alphabetical lists of inhabitants of any locality, with their addresses and occupations; also a similar compilation dealing with the members of particular profession, trade or association”
(The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy, 3rd Edition, p. 325)
The focus of a directory, as noted, is to list/locate members of a group by a common residence or a common association. The city directory lists people who are residents of that area. Directories also group people by a common attribute – such as a profession or organizational membership.
A directory can be a useful resource for researching a family history or assisting in locating biographical information about an individual. City directories provide details as to the location/residence of a person in a particular place and time.
The Minnesota Historical Society Library has an extensive collection of city directories, particularly for Minnesota, and other specialized directories as well. This guide will provide an introduction to the variety of directories that can be found at the MNHS Library.