General collection information
This collection contains postal directories from Scotland between the years 1825 and 1910. Many types of directories are available, including:
Directories are most often organised alphabetically, although some may be organised by street name and house number. All records are typed in English.
Using this collection
Records in the collection may include the following information:
Records in the collection may also occasionally include the following:
Directories are an excellent genealogical resource. Unlike other types of records, they were often published yearly, which allows you to trace your family year on year. Postal directories may also tell you about your family member’s lifestyle, as most early postal listings were a private service that required a fee. Those listed were often members of the gentry, clergy, merchants, or professional craftsmen.
If you can’t find your family member, consider searching for them by their initials. More common names were likely to be abbreviated. John or Johnathan may be abbreviated to “Jno.” while Charles may be shortened to “Chas.”
You may also consider searching for your family member’s place of business. Directories often included advertisements for local businesses and may list names of executives, other high-ranking employees, or board members. These advertisement images are included in the collection but are not searchable at this time. To access these images, simply browse the collection and use the arrows on either side of the record to change pages. If your family member owned their own business, they may have opted to be listed by the name of the business.
Collection in context
The earliest directories from Scotland date from the late 1700’s. Directories were originally created as an aid for professional tradesmen, but proved to be a useful tool and eventually spread to the public via the postal service.
Early postal directories were initially created by private publishers and to be included, users needed to pay a fee. As their popularity grew, directories became more inclusive and publishers created directories to cover more territory and include rural addresses like farms. They would eventually cover entire counties and include members of the general public. Telephone numbers began appearing in the directories in the 1880’s.
National Library of Scotland. “About the Directories.” Last Modified 2012. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/about-directories/index.html.
National Library of Scotland. “Did You Know?.” Last Modified 2012. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/did-you-know/.
National Library of Scotland. “Scottish Post Office Directories.” Last Modified 2012. https://digital.nls.uk/directories/.
Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. “Where to Find Historical Trade Directories Online. Last Modified 12 October, 2022. https://www.whodoyouthinkyouaremagazine.com/tutorials/what-are-trade-directories/.