Wednesday, 7 January 2009

UK City and County Directories release from Ancestry

Ancestry is launching a new dataset tonight, the UK City and County Directories 1677-1946. The following is an abridged version of the press release:

The UK’s original business directories - The UK City & County Directories 1677-1946… detail over 7.8 million tradesmen, businesses and VIPs and span 250 years of UK’s history.

The directories highlight how trade has evolved over the last 250 years, with individual listings varying from the standard occupations of the day such as chimney sweeps and dress makers, to more unusual roles such as leech importers, beast preservers, and weapons dealers.

The collection contains volumes from every county in Britain and many cities, towns and villages including London, Manchester, Nottingham, Glasgow, Birmingham and Bristol.

The founders of retailers that still dominate our high streets today can also be found in the directories. The first shops of Charles Henry Harrod (Harrods), John Boot (Boots Chemists), William Henry Smith (WH Smiths) and John Cadbury (Cadburys) are all included as is the first Marks & Spencer, Dixons and Woolworths – which recently went into administration.

The directories are an important resource for Britons today, painting a personal picture of Britain across almost four centuries and providing a personal glimpse into what our cities, towns and villages were like hundreds of years ago.

The UK City & County Directories, which are of both social and historical significance, were eventually replaced other media, such as the BT Phone Books. has digitised the original volumes and published them online for the first time.

The majority of records will be available online at shortly after midnight. (Records for Rutland, Leicestershire, Norfolk and Kent will be uploaded by March).

UPDATE: The Scottish content is currently limited to the 1870 directory for Glasgow, and the 1825-26 Pigot's directories for the country, split into four regions.

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