I {heart} city directories for genealogy research. They offer year-by-year insights into our ancestors’ lives. In-between censuses, I can see people move into different neighborhoods, take new jobs, and even marry or separate.

Grandpa’s first city directory entry

My grandpa Felix (John J Jr) first appears in a city directory in 1945. He was a young, single veteran just returned from World War II service. This Pueblo, Colorado city directory tells an entire story, doesn’t it?

I can see that John has lost his father, John J Sr, who passed away during the war. Here’s a photo of them. It’s perhaps one of the last one of them taken together, with John Sr on the left:

That city directory was 1945. A lot had already happened in my young grandfather’s life, and things were about to change again. In early 1947, he married Barbara Jane Hall, a 1946 graduate of Pueblo Central High School, from which John was also an alum. This is Barbara’s senior picture in the yearbook:

1946 Pueblo Central High School yearbook image, Ancestry.com.

Their lives unfold in city directories

Entries from the city directories for the following years show the trajectory of this young couple:

city directories genealogy

In 1948, I can see a quick glimpse into grandma’s brief professional career: “opr TelCo.” She was a telephone operator before she became a stay-at-home mom. This 1940s training film on YouTube tells me what it was like to be a telephone operator. She was also an early emergency dispatch operator, since there was no such thing as 9-1-1 service yet.

In these city directory entries, I can also see that my grandpa is starting his career working in the dairy industry. But that’s a post for another time!

I love how city directories and other resources such as yearbooks and even that training video reveal my grandparents’ young lives together.

Want to learn more about researching 20th-century relatives? Ask your local genealogy group to book my talk, Relatively Recent Relatives: 20th Century Research, which I could give in person or as a webinar. Thank you!