• Businesses have employed or served our ancestors since the first
mill was built to grind grain or saw wood.
• Many researchers overlook records created by business. These can
include Local licenses permitting a business to operate, the local
store, hotel, pub, funeral home, newspapers, and even the local
• Business records can be used in three significant ways during
• 1. important information in the absence of traditional records
• 2. Provide clues that may lead to other clues…etx
• 3. Ancestor personal history
Business and employment records include
our ancestors in at least 3 situations.
•1. Owner of the Business
•2. Employee of the a Business
•3. Customer of a business
• Apprentice Records - To indenture is to bind one person to another
for a given period of time. In colonial days most apprentices were
boys in their teens, often younger than fourteen. The agreement was
signed by the master as well as the parents or guardian of the boy.
The trades were often family businesses and many fathers formally
took their sons as apprentices. Apprentices were usually bound until
they were twenty-one so the length of the indenture specified in the
document gives an indication of a boys age.
• Example – Benjamin Franklin was indentured as a printer to his brother
• Indenture – There are several indenture records out there, the most
common type is paying back passage to America. There are also
children were bound out to help earn money for a family, or
daughters could learn how to be a “house wife”….etc
Name: Mary Stamper
Date: 7 Oct 1771
Residence: Northern Liberties
To be taught housewifery, to
sew plain work, read in the
Bible, write a legible hand and
Elias Lewis Freichel and his
Term: 7 yrs., 21 d.
More Town Records
1. Elected town officials
2. Appointed town officials
3. All records written in Town Book by the Town Clerk during Annual Town
4. Appointed Town Officials
Town Collector of Taxes
Surveyor of Highways
Overseer of the Poor
A bill of indenture for the apprenticeship of Jacob Averill, witnessed, signed, and sealed by several
hands, “overseers of the poor” in the town of Preston, Connecticut. Part of the contract deems Jacob
be taught “to read and to write”
• Tax Lists
• Taxpayer name and their real estate and livestock owned.
• List of abatements - Widow with the year husband died, poverty,
debility/disability, and service in War
• School Records
• Finding, hiring, and paying of school teachers
• Minutes of school committee meetings
• Upkeep of the school house
• Church Records
Example - Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988 is on Ancestry.com
• The value of a Directory aids you on locating a person in place and
• As cities grew in the nineteenth century, directories became more
• 1. City Directories
The Alphabetical address
Street Directory (Criss-cross directory)
1. Trace everyone who lives on a certain block or neighborhood
Directory of Churches
Directory of Cemeteries
List of City Officials
Classified list of businesses
WHERE DO YOU FIND THEM?
• Municipal libraries in the city of interest
• County public libraries in the city of interest
• State libraries/State historical societies/State archives
• Family History Library/ Family History Center
• Library of Congress (Washington, D.C.)
WHO WAS LISTED?
• Homeowners and heads of household
• Mid 1800’s all males living and working in the city
• By 1870, most single adult females listed, if they were employed
• By late 1800’s, most directories listed the wife’s name following the
husband’s name, in parenthesis
• The address of work and residence
• Between Census years
• When did they arrive?
• Household members
How to use them
• How your ancestors earned a living
• Sorting Families of the same surname by address, work,
• What is around the home, church, school…etc
• Approximating life events – death, marriage, leaving home
• Unknown relatives in the same area and same surname
• Determine approximate year of death by “widow/widower” status
• The value of a Directory aids you on locating a person in place
• As cities grew in the nineteenth century, directories became
• 1. City Directories
• 2. Professional & Organizational Directories
• 3. Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929
• 4. Telephone Directories
• Just to name a few
Newspaper• The newspapers of a community chronicle the successes, failures, and everyday
lives of the people who live there. To the family historian, newspapers of the
late 19th and early 20th centuries can be especially helpful because of their
personal news and social items.
• Detailed obituaries and marriage notices that provide a great deal of family information
• Memorials published an individual's death. These generally provide the individual's death
date and the names of the people placing the notice - usually family members.
• Social items, such as notices of visitors from out of town; visits of local people to other
places; birthday parties and their attendees; illnesses; community events, contests, and
• Legal articles, including probate notices, divorce cases, dissolutions of business
partnerships, delinquent tax lists, and advertisements of sheriffs' sales.
• News stories in which ancestors played a role, such as automobile or buggy accidents;
explosions, fires, tornadoes or other disasters; crimes; proceedings of meetings of local
governing bodies; listings of candidates for upcoming elections; etc.
• Farmers – By using the census records and agriculture schedule you
can get a good idea on your family's wealth and the way they lived.
If they raised cattle, they had to bring to market? Where would you
• Lawyer/Judges – Practicing the law has a dozen ways to local
records in town’s and big cities. Where did they go to school?
• Doctor/Nurse – Where did they go to school? How did they pay for
• Coal Miners – museum and archives are all over the Country
• Railroad - museum and archives are all over the Country