Report problems or contribute information
We are in the process of upgrading the site to implement a content management system.
UK and Ireland: Directories
Directories were published for many large towns from about 1800, aimed at commercial travellers, though some earlier ones exist. A few decades later such publications were produced covering small towns and rural areas. These directories generally provided a brief description of each town or place covered, plus a listing of prominent residents and of the various tradesmen, and in due course were published annually. As the 19th century progressed directories became more and more comprehensive, and can be of considerable help in locating people and tracing their movements. A growing number of these directories are now being made available online or on CD-ROM.
Useful reference books:
Shaw, Gareth and Tipper, Alison. British Directories: A bibliography and guide to directories published in England and Wales (1850-1950) and Scotland (1753-1950)., (1988).
Norton, J. Guide to the National and Provincial Directories of England and Wales, excluding London, published before 1856, Royal Historical Society (1950).
- British Telecom have placed the United Kingdom Telephone Directories (Yellow and White pages) online. Please note: (1) This includes customers of other telephone companies as well as those of BT, (2) Many UK telephone numbers are "ex-directory", i.e. at the request of the customer, they are NOT listed in any directory.
- British Telecom Archives have a number of record collections of value to genealogists. Of particular value is their extensive collection of Telephone Directories, dating from 1880 to the present day, which are available on microfilm in their public searchroom.
- Residential Number Search allows searchs for residential, commercial and freefone telephone numbers.
- Leicester University's Digital Library of Historical Directories - The aim of this project was to make available one directory for each English and Welsh county for the 1850s, 1890s and 1910s. In addition, a sample of directories was made available for the period 1750-1849, and for the 1860s, 1870s, 1880s and 1900s.
- You can search online for United Kingdom Postcodes.
- White Pages UK's People Finder - a commercial service, based on UK's official Telephone Directory database and the Electoral Roll 2002-2012.
- Similar services are offered by ukphonebook.com and 192.com.
- Ancestry's (subscription) Schools, Directories & Church Histories people search facility.