Using City Directories for Genealogical Research: Windows to the Past

with instructor Diana Crisman Smith



Benefits of this Course

Learn to use city (and other) directories to link a person to a place in time and get other clues to find additional details.

Self-Paced Study

There is no required start or end date. Simply log in and begin your course immediately! You can work through the materials and exercises at a pace that suits your own schedule, experience, and learning style. 

Tips & Techniques

This new three-week course is designed to introduce students to the gems in city (and other) directories. The written lessons are supplemented by videos [closed-captioning provided], and a  handout with resources and websites.

Interactive Learning

Practical exercises will provide an opportunity to explore city directories, putting the concepts into action as you move through the course. Interact with your instructor via a designated Facebook Group.

Curious about how city directories can help you with your genealogical research?
Want to learn how to locate directories online or in print ?
Register today and discover how the details in directories can  serve as clues to provide a clearer image of the lives of your ancestors.

Course Outline

Using City Directories for Genealogical Research

This course uses a combination of text instructions and video components.

Lesson 1

  • Introduction
  • When and Why?
  • Who?
  • What?
  • Other types of directories
  • VIDEO: Exploring directory sections

Lesson 2                     

  • Finding Directories
  • Print/Microform
  • Digital/Online
  • VIDEO: Searching for Directory Sources

Lesson 3

  • Efficiently and effectively using directories
  • Using directories for clues to other data
  • Using directories for tracking migration
  • Putting clues together
  • Planning next steps
  • VIDEO: Organize and Analyze

About the Instructor

Diana Crisman Smith has been researching her family history since grade school. She has been attending conferences, writing, teaching and presenting to genealogical audiences for over 40 years. Her research experience began with her own families in Denmark, Canada, and the US - including three Mayflower ancestors. She has added client research, aiding patrons at the local LDS Family History Search Center as a lay librarian for more than twenty years, and traveling to genealogical repositories around the country (and in Denmark) to explore family history resources. Diana has written feature and how-to articles and product reviews for online and print publications, including Heritage Quest, FamilyTree Magazine, Everton’s Family History Magazine, Genealogical Computing, Digital Genealogist, Family TreeMaker Magazine, APG Quarterly, NGS NewsMagazine, and others. She was an instructor for FamilyTree University, including courses on Land Records, Military Records, Civil War Research, Scandinavian Basics, Death Records, City Directories, Census Records, and RootsMagic software. She is also on the faculty of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, with a course on Danish Research. Diana is past board member of the Genealogical Speakers Guild (GSG), the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE), the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG), and the Florida State Genealogical Society, as well as the Great Lakes Chapter of APG and various local societies. She has presented a wide variety of topics at conferences throughout the United States, at sea, and via webinar. Since concluding a career in software consulting, she is concentrating her efforts on genealogical pursuits including researching, teaching, writing, and speaking.

Register Today

and learn how city (and other) directories can provide windows to the past for your ancestors!




Recently I used some Cleveland city directories to find the basics I had been searching for -- names, occupation and addresses. But then I took Diana's course and realized how much I had missed by searching only the alphabetical section. I also learned how I could expand my knowledge of this branch of my family by answering the excellent questions Diana raised in Lesson 3; more efficiently organize my findings; and check/record related sources. It was definitely worth the time and effort I invested.

Kathy Bruns
Florida & Indiana


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