are trade directories?
first appeared in the 17th century but they didn't become commonplace
until the 19th century. As might be guessed from their name, trade directories
at their most basic were just handbooks containing the names of all the
people involved in commerce in a particular place. Trade directories were
used by commercial travellers (salesmen) who toured round hoping to sell
their goods. When trade directories first started to appear, most were
produced locally by independent publishers. By the latter half of the
19th century their production had become dominated by big publishers or
companies such as Kelly's, the Post Office and Pigot who found it easier
than the smaller publishers to collect the information.
from an 1860s trade directory for Durham. (Image from Durham University
of several trade directories. (Image from Durham University Library.)
are trade directories useful?
find the information in trade directories very useful. In addition to
providing details about the trade and service industries of the town,
most directories also carried information about life in the locality and
a brief local history. The directories carried adverts for some shops
and services which may not have survived in any other form. Trade directories
were also published reasonably frequently so it is possible to use them
to fill in gaps between censuses. If you want to find trade directories
for your own locality contact your local library or county record office
you've found out a little bit about trade directories, discover what they
can tell you about the development of Crook by comparing the entries for
1858 and 1902.