City Directories: The Phone Book Before the Telephone

Want to buy a book in 1900? Head to Carrie Mendenhall or Mrs. Wm. Metzger! Researching the history of your house and curious about the former occupants? Or possibly searching for an ancestor that lived and worked in Covington from 1880-1889? A city directory, think phone book before the telephone, is a wonderful resource for genealogy and local history research. The directories, beginning in 1834 for Covington, contain an alphabetical listing of local residents and businesses. Later directories include separate sections for business, advertisements, and streets. City directories are particularly useful for genealogists and other researchers because not only do they list the head of household and home address, but often the first name of the spouse, other members of the household, occupation, and place of employment. In many cases, the directories note when an individual has been widowed and the first name of the deceased spouse. Want to know who lives in Jones Flats apartments? The criss-cross directory was a great way to look up your neighbors. A very useful section, which first appears in the 1931-1932 Covington City Directory, is the Directory of Householders or Street and Avenue Guide.  This is a reverse directory that lists the streets alphabetically along with the location, intersecting streets, and the address and name of each resident. This is an excellent resource when researching a building without knowing the name of the former resident or business. Residents of Covington in 1886 had a wide variety of jobs for instance Jane B. Walter was a book sewer. The business directory, later titled the “Yellow Pages,” is another great tool for researchers. The entries are classified by type of business rather than name. [...]