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City Directories

The single city directory for Humboldt County has had various titles over time and has varied in its coverage. The call number is F 869 E8 A18. We have volumes for 1890-91, 1893-94, 1895-96, 1898-99, 1903, 1904, 1907-08, 1912, 1913, 1916, 1917, 1921, 1923-1930, 1932-1936, 1937/38, 1939-1942 (suspended 1943-1945), 1946/47, 1948, 1949/50, 1952/53 and supplement, 1954-1965, 1966/67, 1968-1982, 1984, (suspended 1985-1988?), 1989, 1991, 1993, (suspended 1995-1997?), 1998 to present. The following directories are also available online: 1890-91 and 1914-15 (online only).

In addition, we have photocopy of the Humboldt pages of the 1884-5 McKenney's 8-county directory (F868 H8 M385 1883a); Humboldt Standard Classified directory; containing the names, addresses and telephone numbers of representative manufacturing, business and professional interests and institutions of Eureka, California, and vicinity, 1923 (F868 H8 H88); Humboldt A to Z directory and guide book, 1940-1941 (F868 H8 E868); Business and professional directory, 1949 (F868 H8 E87); and Classified directory and guide book, 1951/52, 1955/56 (F868 H8 E87).

A related source of information is telephone books. We have the following years: 1896 (Eureka), 1905, 1906, 1915, 1918, 1931, 1938, 1940-1942, 1949-1953, 1955-1959, 1961 to present.

See also California Genealogy Resources for lists of City and County Directories and Telephone Directories at the California State Library.

Here's what the Humboldt County Historical Society has to say about City Directories (Humboldt County Historical Society [Online] Newsletter, Vol 1 Issue 3, July 3, 2009):

"City Directories are one of the most used resources available at the Society. They contain much more information than a phone book! Some of the main uses for the City Directories or Polk Directories is to find people or businesses. If you're interested in the history of a building, they can be used to track the people who lived at a particular address. As noted earlier, using the City Directories can date photographs by looking up businesses that are pictured...

There are 74 directories on the shelf in the Research Room [Humboldt County Historical Society] covering the years 1884 through 2003. No directories were published in 1918, 1919, 1931, 1944, 1945 or 1951. The two earliest ones, 1884 and 1885, list the businesses and residents from nine counties: Humboldt, Marin, Napa, Yolo, Lake, Solano, Mendocino and Sonoma. From 1895 through 1950, all of Humboldt County is covered. Beginning in 1952, only the communities of Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna, Samoa and Scotia are included. That changed to Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna and McKinleyville in 1970. Eureka, alone, is listed from 1991 on. Beginning in 1913, a reverse directory is included. This means that a person can be identified if only the address is known.

The directories change as time passes providing more information on individuals. There is an introduction at the beginning of each major location that gives a description of that area. Other sections of the book include an alphabetical listing of the businesses and residents in each area; a Classified section, like our yellow pages, divided by business category; a Householder's directory, and a reverse directory by address, phone number or both.

Early directories only list business owners, businesses, employed people, and landholders. A few have business entries with lists of their employees. Later directories include residents and unemployed people. Usually, the home address is included. The sections on smaller locations in the County include listings of the residents and their occupations or land holdings.

Directories can be used to find information on women, also. Later directories add the name of the wife in parentheses next to her husband if she does not work. If the spouse works she will be listed on her own. If a woman is a widow, she will be listed on her own with (widow of...). Children are only listed when they come of age.

Each record is also standard. There is usually a key at the beginning of the book to help with the abbreviations. An example of an entry from 1928 is: Gallow Michl mgr Traveler's Lodge h537 H. This person's name was Michael Gallow. He was the manager of Traveler's lodge and was a householder(h) at 537 H St."