(I know, I know. Excel isn’t a database.) Every once in a while, I decide to spend too much time transcribing information from the city directory into a spreadsheet.

When you’re first getting into urban history, the city directory is one of the more revelatory and interesting sources of information about the past you first encounter. Many libraries have a shelf’s worth of them in the reference section and when you’re trying to answer questions like “what was there in 1932” and “who lived at 263 Nutella Lane in 1975” they’re an indispensable source. Moreover, depending on which company published the guide, you may even have access online.1Those of us who were covered by the Might’s directories are SOL, but if you’re keen on, for example, digging into this source in Montréal, then the BANQ has you covered, having digitized Lovell’s Directory for an impressive 150 year run. That level of convenience makes them a perennial favourite for urban historians working in an academic setting,2I learned about them from Carleton’s John Taylor when I took his urban history course in 2002. in the private sector, and at home.

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Notes   [ + ]

1. Those of us who were covered by the Might’s directories are SOL, but if you’re keen on, for example, digging into this source in Montréal, then the BANQ has you covered, having digitized Lovell’s Directory for an impressive 150 year run.
2. I learned about them from Carleton’s John Taylor when I took his urban history course in 2002.