Researching your ancestors from Great Britain and Ireland

A guide to researching your ancestors in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, using resources at State Library Victoria.


Post office, trade and telephone directories are useful for confirming when and where a person operated a business or resided at a particular address.

Many directories contained residential information - the name and address of the main householder, and possibly their occupation. Trade directories contained commercial listings and several directories also included sections listing the names of government officials and those employed in specific industries such as banking, law and education.

Directories are usually arranged alphabetically by name however some are arranged geographically by suburb and some are arranged by individual street names. Over the years boundaries have moved, so make sure you are checking the right suburb listing and remember that listing in a directory was neither compulsory nor free, so not everyone is listed.

`Slater's Directory of North & South Wales etc., 1880. [Part 1: N & S Wales]', pg. 107. In Special Collections Online, University of Leceister. accessed 12 January 2015. (Click to enlarge).