Answered By: Eleanor Bloomfield
Last Updated: Sep 15, 2023     Views: 50

Various historical trade and local directories for England and Wales are digitised as part of Special Collections Online. There is guidance on what the collection contains and how to use it on the directories homepage, as well as a video showing how to search the directories.

To find all directories covering a particular county click on the county name that you are interested in. We are currently working to improve the indexing of Welsh counties, so any search results may be quite broad.

As the directories are not categorised by town, we advise to search for the county in which the town is located.

If you have found a page from a directory through a Google search or similar, and want to identify which directory it is from, put the search term used into the search bar on the top right of the Historical Directories site and it should bring up the same pages that were found through Google. 

There may be more than one directory listed, so to check which one the page came from, click on a directory in the centre panel, and then on the blue ‘filtered’ button on the right of the page, which will then just show the pages the search term is on (these pages have a red line next to them). If you then enlarge the page by clicking on the blue box in the top right, and scroll through, the search term will be highlighted in a greeny-grey colour.

We are currently experiencing a problem with the directories which means that if more than ten results are returned for a search term only the first ten will be displayed. This is being looked into. In the meantime, we suggest downloading the directory to your computer and opening it in Adobe Reader, or another pdf viewer, and using the search function on this. If you are interested in a particular place such as a county or town, and going to be working with the directories extensively, it is probably easier to do so off-line anyway.