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Saturday, February 14, 2009

FInding out what abbreviations in City Directories mean

Cathie said
In the 1921 Austin City Directory I found a name that matches my Brick Wall relative. But after the name there is a small c in brackets. Considering the time of the Directory, I am wondering if this small (c) stands for coloured? In looking at the entire page several names have the (c) after them, but not all names have it. Any help would be appreciated.

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Cathie, You didn't provide an exact location so can I assume you mean Austin Texas?

Without seeing the directory myself I cannot tell you what the (c) stands for. But you can find out by going back to wherever you saw this directory and reading the preface or introduction. Every published work such as a directory will tell you somewhere at the beginning what the notations stand for. For example early farmer's directories might have a (t) for tenant, (f) = Freeholder, NR = non resident and so on.

Whenever you use a directory it is important to refer to the page showing abbreviations used in the alphabetical section of the directory, following the name in each entry.

Some abbreviations are used frequently, such as h for home or r for residence. You may also see r for residents who are related to the homeowner and b for boarders who are not related.

It's always a good idea to read the start of any book you are consulting to find out what the entries mean. If you found this directory online,just go to the first image of the book and start from there.

Also, if my assumption is correct that this is Austin Texas, you can consult the 1920and 1930 census to see what ethnicity is give for your ancestor.


  1. Hi - first I really enjoy your blog. I looked up the (c) abbreviation in the city directory for several cities and it means colored. Just thought I'd pass that along.

  2. Hi Olive, in looking through a city directory via Ancestry I find the letter "O" after my Great Grandmother's name. Do you know what that might mean? I looked for a preface re: abbreviations but there were none. Can you hlep?