City and County Directories
City and county directories provide annual listings of residents, occupations and addresses.
The following city and county directories are in the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County (PLCH) Digital Library. Search by name or address. You can browse them online, or download them to your computer.
- Cincinnati: 1819, 1825, 1829, 1831, 1834, 1836/1837, 1840, 1842, 1843, 1844, 1846, 1849/1850-1941 (except 1852 and 1854, when no directories were published).
- Norwood: 1896, 1902, 1909/1910, 1911/1912, 1913/1914, 1915/1016, 1917/1918, 1919/1920, 1922/1923, 1924/1925, 1926/1927, 1928/1929, 1930/1931, 1932/1933, 1934/1935, 1937/1938.
- Hamilton County: 1887, 1889, 1891, 1893, 1897, 1899, 1901, 1905, 1907/1908, 1909/1910, 1911/1912 (and 1915, which is not online) have separate alphabetical lists for each town and village. 1939 and 1940 each have one alphabetical list for the entire county outside Cincinnati.
- Cincinnati business directories: 1846, 1848/1849, 1901-1913, 1915, 1917-1918
- Illustrated Business Directory and Picturesque Cincinnati: 1882, 1884-1900, 1902
- Directory of Physicians, Dentists, and Druggists of Cincinnati, Covington, Newport, Dayton, Bellevue, and Ludlow: 1893, 1895
- Musical Directory of Greater Cincinnati: 1896, 1905-1906, 1907-1908
- Specialized directories: river workers, 1879; builders, 1883
1861-1923 Cincinnati directories are on Fold3, and Ancestry has 1861-1960 Cincinnati directories. Both are available to PLCH card-holders.
1942 and later
Ancestry has fourteen Cincinnati directories between 1942 and 1960.
Published volumes of post-1941 Cincinnati directories, Hamilton County directories (1942, 1944, 1946, 1957-1964) and Cincinnati suburban directories (1965 to present) are at PLCH and CHLA. PLCH has the 1954 Norwood directory.
Unusual features in Cincinnati directories
- 1825, 1840: Place of nativity (state or country) for each person
- 1829: First year for a street directory
- 1834, 1840, 1842, 1844: Separate listings for colored persons
- 1842: Separate listing for each political ward
- 1853: First house numbers: even on east and north, odd on west and south
- 1896: Houses were renumbered (1895 for businesses)
- 1923: First year for householder directory, in which every address is listed with the name of the householder or business, showing neighbors
- 1938: First year for listing of householder’s wife (1899 for Hamilton County); first year for ownership symbol (1940 for Hamilton County)
Tips for using Hamilton County directories
If you don’t find someone in Cincinnati, they may have lived in an area that was outside the city at that time but was later annexed. For example, until 1905 residents of Bond Hill, Evanston, Hyde Park and Winton Place (now part of Cincinnati) were listed in county directories. Check annexation dates for Cincinnati neighborhoods on a 1944 map.
Street names were changed occasionally. The names of twelve streets with German names were changed in World War I. A list of old street names with new names given around 1910-1930 can help identify name changes.
Many civil marriage records in Hamilton County do not identify the church where the marriage took place. You may be able to find the officiant’s affiliated church (and perhaps a church record with more information) by checking the directory for that year.
Use the table of contents in each directory to find other sections with useful information. For example, the 1884 directory’s table of contents includes the following sections, among many others: cemeteries, church directory, city and county officers, index to advertisements, justices of the peace, railroad and transportation companies, school department, societies and associations. The 1917 directory has “Cincinnati in War Time” and “Classified Directory of Cincinnati Business Women.”
- Bill Graver, A Guide to Cincinnati City Directories: What, Where, and Watch Out! Cincinnati Historical Society, 1998.
- Bill Graver and Deb Cyprych, “Cincinnati and Hamilton County Directories,” The Tracer (September 2006), 65.
- A. V. Williams, The Development and Growth of City Directories (Cincinnati: Williams Directory Co., 1913), 99, on Google Books
page modified: 04/05/2020 RTB