Sunday, July 8, 2012

Scottish Post Office Directories online

Over 700 digitised directories covering most of Scotland and dating from 1773 to 1911 are now available on line for you to use. The Scottish Post Office directories provide a great tool for researching Scotland's family, trade, and town history. The directories contain an alphabetical list of a location's inhabitants and information on their profession and address, showing where people lived at a certain time and how they earned their living. You can search by place, year and resident's name or view a PDF of a complete book.
The oldest volumes were published in the lated 1700s, when the demand for information about the increasing number of traders, businessess and industries grew rapidly. Most of the directoried were published annually making them a  valuable resource, especially for the years not vcovered by the census which, starting in 1841, was carried out every 10 years.
Some warnings: The directories' coverage of people varies strongly between the different publishers and lcoal areas. Most of the directories up until the mid 19th century would only include the principal inhabitants of a location, leaving the poor in particular not menitoned at all. Women rarely featured in the lists, as usually only the head of a household would be recorded. In addition, people usually had to pay a small fee to be recorded in the directories. While the gentry, clergy, majoy tradesmen, manufacturers, shop owners and other professionals are likely listed, their employees or small traders and craftsmen are often omitted. Laborers and servants are hardly recorded at all.
When searching the directories, bear in mind that, some information may be drawn from previous years. This increased the risk of not always giving the most accurate or up-to-date picture. As well, information was gathered over several months, and residents might well have moved, changed their business or died by the time the directory was printed.



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