Friday, November 14, 2014

Search for Old Addresses, Not Just Names

When searching online publications like books, newspapers, and city directories, try entering the house number and street name where your ancestor lived. If you limit your search to surname, you may miss:

  • results where a name was misspelled, 
  • other relatives with different surnames who also lived at a particular home, or 
  • items that may have just mentioned the location and not the owner. 

For example, searching for a house number and street may lead you to an advertisement or news item where an address appears without your ancestor's name.

In addition, this type of search can help you determine when an ancestor bought or sold a property. When I searched the Historic Pittsburgh website for "2910 Carson" (the home and grocery store of my great-great uncle Henry Jay), I was able to pinpoint when he occupied this building by looking at the city directory search results. In the 1892 city directory, a grocer by the name of Henry C. Snyder was at this address. The 1893 city directory shows the first year my 2nd great-uncle's name was listed at this address. He continued to own this property until his death in 1923. (On another post, you can see a photo of the property as it looks today.)

Post a comment if you have searched for an address and uncovered some useful information about your ancestors.


  1. Joanne,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!

  2. HI Joanne I like your blog interesting reading. I would like some help on finding
    a way to move past the year 1785 where I am stopped at present. Not sure just
    where to concentrate my research to move back beyond this.
    Rick Hamilton

    1. Hi Rick, congratulations on researching your family tree back to 1785! You don't mention locations, but some of my favorite sources are probate records, church records, and newspapers. Definitely spend time learning about what's available for the city or town where your ancestor lived. There may be published local histories that mention residents, or a local historical society may have great information. Contact me by email if you would like suggestions for a specific ancestor or geographical location. Good luck!


Do you have a genealogy problem or need guidance on where to search next? Send me a message if you'd like me to help!