City directories at Fold3 are featured in two categories: Miscellaneous, which include small town directories in five of the six New England states. And the primary category "City Directories," which includes directories for thirty large metropolitan centers in twenty states. While all city directories share many of the same features, the directories for large cities are primarily covered in this description.
City directories are organized on Fold3 as follows:
- alphabetically by state,
- then alphabetically by city,
- then chronologically by year of publication,
- then alphabetically by last name, with only the name listed at the top of each page showing in the browse menu.
If you are looking for a particular name, use the search mode. But failing that, browse to the state and town in which you're looking for someone. Then search within the browse menu, or simply browse through the list of names printed at the top of each page until you find the correct page to review. It's a little like flipping through a phone book, glancing only at the names in the top corner until you get to the section of the alphabet you're looking for.
Check supplementary listings
Shown above is an image of a page of "supplementary" names. These are names added after the directory was ready to go to press. "Names too late for regular insertion, changes in location, etc." It is always a good idea to check these pages for people you expect to find in the directory but aren't able to.
When doing a search, there are times when the name you enter in the search box takes you to a page where that name is not highlighted. For example, if you search for "Dilling" within city directories, two of the results you see include one for Edmund Coulson in the Berlin, Massachusetts, 1911 directory, and another for Charles W. Campbell in the Bolton, Massachusetts, 1911 directory.
Coulson and Campbell are the names listed at the top of each pertinent page, and therefore the correct headers of the pages you need to look at (like the names in the top corners of the phone book). Zoom in on the page images and pan down to Dilling (after all, D follows C in an alphabetical listing). You'll find in the Berlin directory, that Antoine Dilling removed to Clinton and that Mrs. Elizabeth Dilling lives on McPherson Road. In Bolton, you'll find Anton Dilling residing on Balville Street.
For help in deciphering abbreviations, see the article below on "Abbreviations used in city directories."