Genealogists and historians can now view local directories from England and Wales as far back as 1750 by going online. The University of Leicester collected the directories and converted them to digitized images, using a grant of £335,000 from Lottery funds.
City directories are more or less the Yellow Pages of their day. However, unlike modern-day telephone directories, English and Welsh city directories often include census details, eclipses and even tables showing tide times. People listed in these directories typically have their occupations listed as well.
The new Historical Directories web site uses a search engine developed by document management firm ZyLab. Technology known as fuzzy logic allows users to search documents for specific words, even if the term is spelt differently in the document.
The new Historical Directories site has placed 330,000 documents from some 643 directories online so far and more are planned.
You should be able to access Historical Directories Online at http://www.historicaldirectories.org. However, when I tried I received error messages. I suspect this new Web site is swamped as enthusiastic genealogists and historians attempt to access the information. Such problems are not unusual with new sites that contain information that is in demand. If you also receive an error message, I would suggest you abandon your efforts for a few hours, then come back at a later time to try again.