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Using City Directories to Determine Community Identity


Eastern Illinois University

Charleston, Illinois


Coles County



Additional Resources



City directories played an important role in our ancestor’s lives, and remain invaluable local history resources today. Directories contain information regarding city residents, and often that of an entire county. This information includes an individual’s name, address, occupation, dwelling status (owner, renter, etc.), and telephone number. Often these directories were relied on more than censuses to provide a more complete demographic picture of a community.

Click on the following activities to learn the benefits of using city directories as a local history resource:


Home Owners vs Renters 


Building History

Family Mobility            

Do Your Own Research


Local places to find city directories:


Mattoon Public Library      

Charleston Public Library     

Eastern Illinois University Booth Library


Other related information:


Annotated Bibliography