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When I have a challenge researching an ancestor, I always look to see if there is a city directory that exists during the same time my ancestor would have been in a particular area. City directories are a great substitute if your ancestor is missing on a census or if you want to identify your ancestor between census years.

Many Savannah, Georgia city directories from 1866 to 1934 are available on microfilm through the Family History Library Catalog. Savannah, Georgia city directories from 1888 to 1891 are available on Ancestry.

If you have identified your ancestor's family group, you may be pleasantly surprised to find them listed in the city directory or you may find a relative mentioned for the first time in the city directory. During the Jim Crow Era, African Americans were often listed in a separate section in the directory.

Sometimes during the 1900's, family members moved from the rural areas to escape the violence. Even though they were part of the Great Migration, they passed through the urban areas and may be found in the city directories.

Some of the information that I have discovered in city directories include:

  • ancestors missing on the census
  • ancestors who moved back and forth from the North to the South or from a rural area to the city
  • ancestors occupation
  • head of household in a given year

If your ancestor owned a business, was a member of the clergy, or was a school administrator, be sure to check the name of the organization or business to find a listing. Look for city directories in local libraries, historical and genealogical societies, and archives.

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