Historical Directories

A digital collection of the trade directories of England and Wales (1766-1919)

The version of Historical Directories launched in February 2003 can no longer be sustained due to software and hardware obsolescence. We have therefore moved the content to a new Historical Directories Collection, part of our Special Collections Online. This work is essential in order to maintain free and sustainable public access to the resource.

Update, 31 March 2014: Migration of Historical Directories is now complete and the previous website has been withdrawn. We are grateful to the many users who have provided feedback on the new site, and will continue to improve it during 2014.


The Historical Directories website was launched in February 2003 as part of a Lottery funded project. In order to continue providing free access to this resource, we have transferred the directories onto a new website.

Our new service brings together Historical Directories, My Leicestershire History and Manufacturing Pasts to create the University of Leicester's Special Collections Online, an integrated digital library containing reproductions of rare and unique material from the collections of the University Library and other organisations.

Historical Directories is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1766 to 1919. It contains reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and family history. The collection provides national coverage and also integrates material from different institutions into a coherent, and free, online collection. It is relevant to amateur historians, academics, teachers and the general public. The website contains at least one directory for every English and Welsh county for each of the 1850s,1890s and 1910s.

Some original directories contain large, fragile and folded maps. We have omitted most of these during the digitisation process, as they are unsuitable for scanning. However some of the Leicestershire and Rutland maps have been digitised and included in the My Leicestershire History project.

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