Directories, almanacs and gazetteers

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How can directories help with family history research?

Almanacs, post office and trade directories are useful for tracing the addresses and movements of ancestors. A listing in the directory can help to confirm a person’s whereabouts at a certain time, just as a sudden disappearance from the directory can provide a clue about the date of a person’s death. You can find information in Trade and professional directories about occupations, and some post office directories also include categories such as ecclesiastical, educational and pastoral directories.

What information can I find in directories?

Directories usually contain alphabetical lists of householders’ names and addresses, but the arrangement varies over time, and between publications. Not all directories list people in a single alphabetical index. Listing may be arranged geographically, under the name of the town or suburb, or arranged in street number order under the name of the street. Some directories list only people holding public office in the town.

Listing in a directory was neither compulsory nor free, so the fact that someone is not listed in the directory may simply indicate that s/he chose not to be included.

What directories are available at the State Library of Queensland?

Queensland | New South Wales | Victoria | Tasmania | South Australia | Western Australia | International

Queensland

This is the collective name assigned to several Queensland directories issued between 1868 and 1949 by different publishers. The various directories have been have been collected into one chronological series and titled Queensland Post Office Directories.The main directories in the collection are:

  • Official Post Office Directory of Queensland (Professional, Squatting and Trade)
  • Brisbane Post Office Directory and Country Guide
  • Wise’s Queensland Post Office Commercial Directory

Arrangement varies throughout the editions but generally includes a trade/professional directory and an alphabetical section. The alphabetical section is sometimes split between Brisbane and country regions.

SLQ holds on microfiche post office directories between 1868 and 1949. Editions for 1868, 1874, 1876, 1878-79, 1885-1891, 1894-1905, 1907-9, 1911-15, 1919, 1921-28, 1930-31, 1933, 1936-38, 1941-42 and 1947 are also available on CD-ROM. The CD-ROMs are available at the desk in the Micrographics area on level 3.

For more information on these directories refer to ‘Directories to people, places and patterns in Queensland since 1868’ by Rod Fisher in Brisbane: Archives and Approaches II, Brisbane History Group Papers No 7, G 994.31 1988 (Level 3) or Q 994.31 BRI (Level 4). See also the online guide on Queensland Post Office Directories 1868-1949.

Some directories may also be found on Ancestry and find my past (Australia), available onsite only at SLQ.

Almanacs

Almanacs may cover the whole State or only specific areas such as North Queensland or the Darling Downs. They provide information about people and places such as:

  • professions, trades and industries
  • postal routes
  • important residents
  • a summary of the news events of the previous year
  • the location of pastoral properties and so on

Some useful almanacs include the following:

  • Slater's Queensland Almanac [microfiche] (FICHE/S 319.43 sla). Covers the years 1868-1870; 1872-1874; 1876-1892; 1894-1906; 1908; 1918. A digitised version of 1870 is also available.
  • Willmett's North Queensland Almanac [microfiche] (FICHE/S 919.436 wil). Covers the years 1876 -1879; 1883; 1885; 1892; 1898
  • Groom’s Darling Downs Book Almanac [micorfiche] (FICHE/S 919.433 gro). Covers 1886-1887; 1892-1893; 1897-1898; 1900-1903; 1905; 1907; 1909-1910; plus 1900 on CD-ROM. Digitised versions of 1885, 1892, 1897, 1898, 1900, 1902, 1907, 1909 and 1910 are also available.
  • Pugh’s Almanac [microfilm] (MFL 919.43). A Queensland wide directory and almanac, published under various titles between 1859 and 1927. Editions included all or some of the following sections: a Queensland almanac, Brisbane street map, a law calendar, directory, coast guide, gazetteer and a biographical dictionary of prominent citizens called ‘Men of the Time'. Pugh's almanac is also available on CD-ROM (QCFS 919.43) for the years 1859-1900; 1920 and 1926. Some are also available through Ancestry, available onsite only at SLQ.

Gazetteers

These are geographical dictionaries or books where the subject is dealt with especially in regard to geographic distribution and regional interest.

New South Wales

Post Office Directories

Like their Queensland counterparts, the NSW Post Office Directories were published under a variety of titles and in different formats over the years, and have been brought together in one collection.

The NSW Post Office Directories include the following:

Victoria

Post Office Directories

SLQ holds:

  • Official Post Office Directory for Victoria 1839 -1930 [microfiche] (MFCB 994.5025). The collective title for Post Office directories published by Sands and Kenny, Sands and MacDougall, Wise’s Directories and Bailliere’s Directories. Generally, these directories provided the names, residences and occupations of the inhabitants of the Colony inclusive of Melbourne and suburbs, arranged locally and alphabetically, with cross references. All are available under the title Official Post Office Directory on Open Access on microfiche. Also available on CD-ROM are the editions for 1859, 1861, 1865, 1879, 1892 and 1904.
  • New South Wales and Port Phillip General Post Office Directory for 1839 [microfiche] MFC 919.44 originally published by James Maclehose, 1839.

Tasmania

SLQ holds the following directories for Tasmania:

South Australia

SLQ holds the following directories:

Western Australia

International

  • Wise’s New Zealand Post Office Directory Available on microfiche at MFC 919.31 and on CD-ROM at QCFS 919.30025 for various years in the 19th and 20th Century.
  • English Census Directories Project [microfiche] (MFC 914.2 1991). A collection of 19th century Post Office Directories for the English counties.
  • 1900/01 London phone book [CD-ROM] (QCFS 942.10025 200-). It is a reproduction of the original publication. It contains an alphabetical list of names and addresses of trades people and private residents.

SLQ holds many Australian and international directories, several now available on CD-ROM. Please check the One Search online catalogue, and consult the staff at the reference desk.

What directories are available on the internet?

  • Queensland place names search - searchable database of recorded approved, unapproved, alternative and obsolete place names in Queensland.
  • The State Library of Western Australia has digitised a number of almanacks and post office directories. They are as follows: Western Australian alamanck 1849-1867 (Shenton), Western Australian alamanck 1853-1864 (Stirling & Sons), Western Australian alamanack & directory 1865-1889, The Herald Western Australian alamanack & commercial directory 1873-1885 and Western Australian Post Office Directories 1893-1949.
  • Geoscience Australia: Place names of Australia gazetteer - searches the Gazetteer of Australia which contains over 300 000 geographical place names in Australia.
  • Historical Directories of England and Wales - University of Leicester’s searchable digital library of historical directories of England and Wales between 1750 and 1919.

Download the PDF version of Directories, alamanacs & gazetteers: family history info guide [PDF 88 kb]

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Related pages

Queensland Post Office Directories (1869-1949)
Post office directories can help locate addresses and movements of ancestors.  

Electoral rolls
Locate full name and address and, between 1903 and 1984, occupation.