Historical Directories

An extensive collection of digital and print trade directories for England and Wales, covering the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries


Our extensive collectons of local trade directories include 675 digitised volumes, including at least one directory for every English and Welsh county for each of the 1850s, 1890s, and 1910s. These can be accessed free of charge via our online Historical Directories collection or with additional search options as part of the Ancestry collection of UK, City and County Directories, 1766-1946. Access to Ancestry is available to subscribers, through on campus access to members of the University through Ancestry Institution, or through local authority library services.

Print copies of late ninetenth- and early twentieth-century directories for most English counties can be accessed in the English Local History section on the third floor of the David Wilson Library. Volumes printed before 1850 form part of our Archives and Special Collections, and can be consulted in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers from outside of the University can access material onsite by applying for a free reference card.

All of our holdings of print and digitised directories can be searched via Library Search. To locate material relevant to your research, we recommend that you enter the name of a city or county into the search box followed by the word "directory". Once your search results appear, refine the publication dates to your period of interest using the date filter on the right-hand side towards the bottom of the results page.

Directories are an invaluable primary source for historians. They provide first hand data about local communities, their infrastructure and the individuals inhabiting those communities. Extensive background information and guides to using them for research can be found on our Special Collections Online website.

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T: +44 (0)116 252 2056

E: specialcollections

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Archives and Special Collections is currently closed until further notice. For further information about onsite services please visit see our Covid-19 Library Advice.