Week 24 Post Office Directories in 52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014

6 October 2014

52 Weeks of Genealogical Records in 2014

This blog challenge is to stimulate my own genealogy blogging efforts in 2014 by focusing on a different kind of genealogical record each week. I wanted a challenge that reflected my own archival background as well as my own genealogy interests and there are probably lots of other records that I could have included. The challenge has an Australian focus but most of these records will be found just about anywhere in the genealogy world.

The 52 different types of genealogical records I finally decided on are listed in no particular order (each week will be a random surprise). Originally I planned to do this over 52 weeks but I now realise that I have to factor in travel and illness so it will continue a little bit over a year. Anyone is welcome to do all or part of this blogging challenge.  Let me know if you are participating and I will put a link to your post under each week’s challenge.

So far I know of six bloggers who are taking up the challenge from time to time and I have put links to their individual entries at the end of each week’s blog if they have submitted something for that week. Thanks Judy WebsterSharn WhiteCassmobAnneCampaspe Library and Sharon for participating and encouraging me to keep up the blog challenge myself!

Also participating in this blog challenge:

Links to Week 1 Military Medals Week 2 Internal Migration Week 3 Probates (wills and administrations) Week 4 Memorial Cards Week 5 Family Stories Week 6 Land Records Week 7 Local Histories Week 8 Diaries Week 9 Inquest Records Week 10Occupation Records Week 11 Newspapers Week 12 Gazetteers Week 13 Personal Names and Surnames Week 14 Cemetery Records Week 15 Civil Registration and Certificates Week 16 Naturalization and Citizenship Records Week 17 Court Records Week 18 Almanacs   Week 19 Family Bibles Week 20 Mining Records Week 21 Obituaries Week 22 Family Letters and Correspondence  Week 23 Electoral Rolls

 Week 24 Post Office Directories

Post office directories are similar to Almanacs which we looked at in Week 18. There are a number of different types of directories depending on the publisher but Sands and Wise’s are probably the two most well known. Directories are another great way to trace people but you do need to remember that not everyone is included, usually only the head of the house so women are only included if they are single or widowed. Sometimes people can be listed even after their death or they have moved elsewhere. Street numbers may have changed and street names too. So always confirm your findings with other records.

Gympie 1895 Wise's DirectoryWhat can you find? Generally you will get a person’s name, possibly occupation and an address in the alphabetical section. But there are other sections in most directories including a town/city listing which will give information on facilities in the town such as churches, shops, schools, police and so on. There is often an ecclesiastical section listing all the denominations and churches and giving ministers’ names and other laypersons.

One of my families lived in Gympie and if you look at the example of the Gympie town directory it lists various facilities including schools, sporting groups, the local defence force and friendly  societies in the region.

A name search may pick up an ancestor involved with something that you had previously not known about but remember to also check under abbreviations of their given name or perhaps even just an initial.

I personally like advertisements as they are a window into another time and if you are lucky, you may even find an ancestor’s advertisement or a sketch of their hotel or shop.

ThesToorbul 1896-97 QLD PODe days it is much easier to search directories as many have been digitised and are online free courtesy of libraries and archives. For example, the State Library of Western Australia has the Western Australian post office directories online for free from 1893-1949 and the City of Sydney Archives has a range of Sands Sydney, Suburban and Country post office directories 1858-1933 online. A Coraweb, Trove or Google search may help you find directories for your area  and you may also access post office directories via Findmypast.com.au which has an extensive collection for all Australian states and New Zealand and Ancestry.com.au (which only has WA 1910 and 1926 and NSW 1832) if you have a subscription or can access those databases at a library.

The advantage of keyword searching in a large database such as Findmypast is obvious when you can simply enter a place and family name, for example Carnegie and Toorbul and then seconds later see a list of people living in that area. FMP’s holdings for Queensland is 1868 to 1915 and my search returned 11 results in seconds. You can’t even do that manually!

In the alphabetical section of various years I pick up my GGG grandfather John Carnegie, selector of Toorbul as well as any other persons with the Carnegie name. In the country section I get a list of all the people in the Toorbul area plus the information that it is in the Moreton District, 41 miles north of Brisbane and 9 miles from Caboolture.

Directories can not only assist you in tracing people’s movements but they can also reveal if your ancestors were active in their communities. If a family stayed in the same area for a while then you may be able to build up quite a lot of information on them from the directories. Why not see what you can find out?



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