CA Research Aid - Directories
Page last updated on 3 Jun 2014
While city directories can date back to the 1700s, California directories start after statehood. Directories can be found for San Francisco from 1850 on and for Sacramento from 1851. Other areas of the state soon followed.
Directories can be a valuable source for locating ancestors, city directories can provide important information such as full name, address, name of spouse, employment and names of individuals living at the same address. They are also a great resource for hospitals, schools, cemeteries, fraternal organizations, transportation systems, and mail service. All the minor details that weave together the fabric of our lives. Checking directories for every year can provide clues to family members as they enter employment.
More hints on using directories can be found at
Board For Certification of Genealogists
Ancestry Learning Center
Finding Aids for California Directories
CA State Library City and County Directory Database
CA State Library Telephone directories on Microfilm database
California Online Historical Directories - Miriam Robbins Midkiff has compiled this listing of online directories including both free and subscription listings that cover periods as early as 1838 in the San Francisco Bay area. Many of the directories are available on Ancestry, visit a local library if you don't have a subscription. At the National Archives a listing of microfilmed city directories for the years around 1929-1931 is available. These were used initially as a finding aid into the 1930 census before the online indexes were developed.
Google Books [search for California - Directory (add county and/or city, an occupation, or an institution to limit your research)]
Internet Archives [search for California - Directory (add county and/or city, an occupation, or an institutionto limit your research)]
Online Archives of California - searches collections for more than 150 California libraries, archives, historical and genealogical societies.
California City Directories on Microfilm - LOC
Polks Directory of Directories 1916
Check the county page in this research guide for lists of available directories and links to online versions. (coming soon)
Check local libraries in your area to see if they have the full run of directries for the area.