Directories were first published around the beginning of the nineteenth century; they primarily only covered cities and larger towns. This directory covers the town of Burntisland, Fife, situated on the south-west coast of the County. The town of Burntisland is a sea-port and a Royal Burgh and traditional industries include fishing and coal.
Information Contained in Directories
The original purpose of directories was to provide information about towns and localities for travellers and other visitors. A directory would include a general description of the town or area and then include details on local transportation, churches, schools, government offices, shops, and businesses, etc. Sometimes information on specific people, such as businessmen, traders, and shopkeepers, was included as well.
Later directories began to include sections on private residents. At first this mainly consisted of the wealthier and more prominent individuals. Eventually the directories became more comprehensive and more residents, especially householders, were included regardless of social status.
Why use directories
Directories are great sources for locating people in a particular place and time. They are especially useful in between census years and in earlier years when censuses are non-existent. However, directories are also an excellent source for gathering details to help you place your ancestors in historical context. Because most directories provided descriptions and other information about the town and surrounding localities, directories can help you paint a picture of what life in that time and place might have actually been like.