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Most larger cities and towns in MA published annual directories. These listed all heads of households and employed adults. For each name listed, the directory gives that person’s address, whether they owned or rented there, and their place of employment, if employed. No children or other dependents are listed.

The directories are useful in tracking people’s movements, and can be helpful in narrowing down a date of death. If someone has been listed in the directory each year and then suddenly isn’t listed one year, that person most likely moved or died the year before. Many later directories actually list the date of death, or list a wife who is now the head of household as “widow of ______.” Sometimes a listing will say “moved to ______.” The directories can also be helpful in determining other aspects of a family’s history: when someone arrived in the area, got married, and/or changed employment.

I have access to directories for Springfield and many of the larger surrounding towns – Chicopee, West Springfield, Holyoke, Agawam, and others. Also for some towns in Hampshire and Berkshire Counties (including Pittsfield.) Directories are usually available from about 1890 to about 1970 – but the years directories are available vary from town to town. If I haven’t specifically mentioned the city or town you’re interested in,  e-mail me to see if I have directories for that town, and what years I have.