Michelle Ann Kratts

How to find the history of your Niagara Falls home, Part II: the City Directory

In If This House Could Talk on June 9, 2015 at 5:06 pm
An 85 year old Niagara Falls City Directory

An 85 year old Niagara Falls City Directory

By Michelle Ann Kratts

Now that you know a little bit about your home’s past after looking through your title abstract– you are ready to check out the Niagara Falls City directories!  I just warn you…give yourself some time for this…as you may be sucked into a time warp!  It is so fascinating looking page by page, street by street.  Seeing life as it was so many years ago through an old directory is certainly like going back in time.

Going through the city directories are also integral to researching your house history.  The Niagara Falls City directories are available from 1886 through 1960 through Ancestry.com.  Ancestry.com is free for you to use at the Lewiston Public Library and at the Niagara Falls Public Library.  Or you can purchase your own membership. You can search page by page digitally.  You may also search through the actual directory books.  The Niagara Falls Public Library has most of them (I believe!).  Here are the Niagara Falls City directories that we have available in book form at the Lewiston Public Library:

Polk’s Niagara Falls City Directory:  1930-31, 1956, 1974-77, 1979-1980, 1982-2007

Hill-Donnelly Corporation, Niagara Falls, NY and Vicinity Cross and Search Reverse Phone Directory:

1984, 1986, 1989-1994, 1996-present

The great thing about the city directory is that you can look up an address.  It isn’t like a phone book where you can only look up a name.  So if all you know is your address than you are set!

Search by street

Search by street

However you can also search by name.

Search by last name

Search by last name

As for the house researcher, this is an excellent tool as it allows you to go back year by year.  You can find who lived in your house each year that there was a city directory.

The listing will provide the following information:  name of resident (usually the male first), spouse in parentheses, his occupation, place of employment, and if they own the house.  I ALWAYS look for the “Abbreviation Index.”  The Abbreviation Index will help you understand those strange letters and acronyms you will find after the names.  These strange letters and acronyms can hold a lot of important facts!  Knowing where the index is will save you a lot of time.

The abbreviation index will allow you to understand those acronyms and abbreviations

The abbreviation index will allow you to understand those acronyms and abbreviations

You can also find valuable information about businesses from a city directory.  They are filled with advertisements and also business listings.

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City directories are an excellent resource for finding the history of your home.

The third installment in our series about finding the history of your Niagara Falls home will concern the census records.

Anyone can research their home’s history once you are aware of the resources that are available.

directory 2

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