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City Directories – A Good Source To Find Birth Parents

Find Birth Parents

City Directories can be and extremely effective resource when trying to find birth parents.

City Directories have been published for well over a 100 years in most major cities throughout the United States.  City directories have also been published in smaller towns throughout the country.  Although a city directory looks similar to a telephone directory, it contains much more genealogical information to help find birth parents:

  • Addresses and names of persons / birth parents within a household
  • Employment information on persons / birth parents within a household
  • Property ownership information
  • Marital status

City Directories also have a classified section similar to the Yellow Pages.  There you can find birth parents by researching the names and addresses of businesses, hospitals, schools, organizations, adoption agencies, orphanages, cemeteries, etc.

Cities and towns with large populations are typically covered by more than one city directory.  There may be one directory for the main city and then several suburban directories covering the surrounding vicinity.  So, when trying to find birth parents, if the birth family you are researching is not in the main city directory, check out any other available suburban directories.

We mentioned that employment information is available on persons listed in a city directory.  Ths can help you find birth parents.  Obtaining employment information will allow you research additional records such as union records, railroad records, organizational records, etc.

Many city directories also have reverse directories (i.e., you can look up a specific address and see who resides there and who are the neighbors).  Reverse directories also inform you whether a subject is a tenant or a property owner.  If you determine the subject owns the property, then you can research property records.  Property records can provide much data to help you find birth parents.

Once you have located a person of interest in a city directory, follow their historical trail via additional city directories from year to year.  OmniTrace tracked a subject for over twenty years through city directories.  When his name finally disappeared, we requested a death certificate.  Information from the death certificate allowed us to find the birth parents of our client.

One way to access city directories to find birth parents is to contact the main library in the area you are researching and determine what years their city directories cover.  In addition, city directories are becoming available online.  Here are a few good online resources to help you find birth parents:

You can also access city directories at the Library Of Congress.  The latest editions are located on Deck 46 which is entered through Alcove 4 in the Main Reading Room. They are arranged alphabetically by state.  (There are many other helpful resources at the Library Of Congress to help you find birth parents.)

The Family History Library in Salt Lake City Utah is another available source of city directories (this library also has many other resources to help find birth parents).  Ancestry also has a growing library of city directories.

Bottom line:  City directories are a great source to help find birth parents.  Please give us a call toll free at 888-965-6696 if you have any questions about how to find birth parents with city directories or email us at:

Find Your Birth Family

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  1. Heather says:

    my name is heather i was born on may 27 1976 i was adopted when i was 6 years old my mothers name was bonnie campbell at the time i want to find my birth mother.

    please help me find my birth mother my name was heather dianne campbell now its heather ann king my mothers name was bonnie campbell so please help me find her thanks