Monday, October 27, 2014

Thurston City Directories

Thurston City Directories

By Kathy Hoskins    
Have you ever wondered who lived in your house before you?  At archives we have an easy way of finding out.  We can also tell you what the homeowner did for a living.  Or maybe you want to know more about someone who lived in the area but your information is sketchy. ­ We can help with that too. A lot of information awaits you in our collection of city directories  (printed by the Thurston company) dating from 1911 to 1976. The reverse address listing is one of the most helpful features. If you know a particular address you can find out who lived there on any given year between 1911 and 1976 (with a few years missing).  You can then look up the name in the regular listing and find out the individual’s profession and place of employment. (Read more after the break.)

During the 1940s a great number of homes were built in Altadena. Squeezing four houses in between two mansions meant street addresses frequently changed. When doing research in the reverse address section, noticing names of the adjoining neighbors can often help identify the new number of the residence you are researching. 

Also, addresses are organized giving the nearest cross streets so you can tell the location of any address more easily.  Listings are under male head-of-household. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to trace women because they disappear into their husband’s listing. If there is a wife, her name is in parenthesis.  If she is a widow, she is listed as “Mrs. John Smith.”  A single unmarried woman will be listed by her own name.  You can use the directories if you’re doing historical research as well. For instance, during the depression the directory listed many residences as vacant.  In addition, a number of single family homes show two or more families living at the same address. This information suggests, for instance, which neighborhoods suffered the most from the economic downturn.  

If you want to know who occupied your home prior to you or where your long lost ancestors lived in Pasadena or Altadena, come into the archives or phone/e-mail us and we’ll help you find out:  
(626) 797-8016

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