Posts Tagged ‘Polk directories’

28th December
written by Richard

Last May I wrote a post on City Directories: their value to historical researchers and the need for digitization. These books list personal and business names, addresses, and occupations for most of San Diego County. Now some great news to report. Nearly 40 years of San Diego directories are available online from the Internet Archive.

Several months ago, the Special Collections department of the San Diego Public Library accepted an incredible offer from the Balboa Park Online Collaborative to have these important volumes digitized. The years from 1887 to 1925 were scanned, page by page through the services of the BPOC. Volumes once available only in the California Room at the downtown library, can now be viewed and searched online, or downloaded in a variety of formats.

Click here for San Diego Directories.

Probably the easiest way to use the directories is to read them online. You can flip through the pages or do a search by name. One problem, unfortunately, is that the directory titles don’t always show the year. So here’s a hint. If you look on the right side of the search results you’ll see “sort results by.” Click on “Date” and the volumes will be sorted by year.

If you don’t want to rely on your Internet connection you can also download the entire volumes in pdf, full-text, or other formats. You can even download the directories to a Kindle.

6th May
written by Richard

Monday through Friday my “real” job is watching over the California Room at San Diego’s downtown Central Library.  Among many collections of note here are the business directories, dating from the late 1880s all the way up to 1984.  Researchers have long appreciated the historical value of these thick volumes—often known as the “Polk Directories”–which list personal and business names, addresses, and occupations for most of San Diego County.  They are invaluable for studying local family or business history, and they are used heavily.

The popularity of our Polks has been a bit of a problem.  Paper and bindings wear out, of course, and we have had to pull a few of our more popular volumes just to prevent their total destruction.  But a solution has appeared.

In the last two months the library has been working with the San Diego Genealogical Society to digitize the directories.  The Genealogical Society’s R. J. Christensen has personally scanned over thirty of our earliest books, ensuring the preservation of the images.  The next step is to index the pdf files, which will give us quick name access to online copies of the directories.  The Society is now working with to make this last important step possible.  Stay tuned . . .