In 1871, Dr. Lewis P. Bush presented the Historical Society of Delaware with six directories for the City of Wilmington. While this minute book entry doesn’t seem to say much, these directories, and those that the Society has collected in the years since, provide our library patrons a wealth of information.
Today, the Delaware Historical Society holds Wilmington city directories from 1814 to 1986. These small (or in some cases, very large!) publications contain listings for the personal residences as well as business addresses of Wilmingtonians. The 1814 directory even contains data from the 1810 census. We see that between 1810 and the 1814, the city’s population rose from 4,416 to 5,000. These early records give the name of the head of household, their occupation, and their address. Later volumes contain more information and offer a look-up by block. Over the years, the city directories also grew to include the Wilmington suburbs. Even the advertisements within the publications serve as additional resources.
These directories are helpful to all kinds of researchers including genealogists interested in the occupations or addresses of their ancestors, individuals researching the history of their home, or scholars concerned with business history in the city of Wilmington.
Have you used the city directories or any of our other reference material in a creative or interesting way?