The Historical Directories collection contains 675 trade directories for England and Wales, covering the period 1750 to 1919. They were digitised under a project funded by the New Opportunities Fund, predecessor to the Big Lottery Fund, which ran from 2001 until 2004. In order to sustain the collection as a freely available resource the original website has been withdrawn and all the digitised directories transferred to the University of Leicester's Special Collections Online. Parts of the earlier website can still be consulted via the UK Web Archive, although please note that these archived versions only provide access to supporting webpages and not the directories themselves.
Trade directories are a vital source for the study of local and family history. The aim of the original project was to make available one directory for each English and Welsh county for the 1850s, 1890s and 1910s. In addition, a sample of directories was made available for the period 1750-1849, and for the 1860s, 1870s, 1880s and 1900s. In Britain the first recognisable directories emerged during the late seventeenth century, meeting a growing demand for accurate information about trade and industry. The content of the directories varies, but typically they contain:
- descriptions of cities, parishes, towns and villages. These may include geographical, historical and statistical details
- information about local facilities, institutions and associations
- listings for private residents, traders, trades and professions
- details of important people
Fair use of items
The items on this website are made available under a Creative Commons licence. The items are available for your personal use. We ask that you use these materials in accordance with the licence conditions
Prints of originals
We regret that we are unable to supply prints of originals included on this Website. However, we hope that you enjoy the digitised images available.
The Historical Directories collection contains material from the David Wilson Library, University of Leicester. Material was also supplied by the following repositories:
Leicestershire Record Office; Birmingham Central Library; Exeter Central Library; West Sussex County Library Services; Institute of Historical Research; Swansea Central Reference Library; Cardiff Central Library; Wolverhampton Archives; Newcastle Local Studies and Family History Centre; Cumbria County Library; Manchester Central Library; Lincoln Central Library; Nottingham Central Library; Bradford Central Library; Wiltshire Library and Heritage Headquarters; Bath Central Library; The Centre for Kentish Studies; Hampshire County Council's Library and Information Service; Ealing Local History Centre; The Cornwall Centre; Hampshire Library & Information Service Headquarters.