Phone books and city directories are an incredibly valuable research tool, especially for genealogists. These publications provide a tremendous amount of information that, when compiled, can paint a very clear picture of an individual's personal journey.
One challenge of working with these publications is trying to figure out exactly which phone book you should be using. This isn't as easy as it might seem, especially if you're tracking family members or properties in small towns—specifically if the town no longer exists.
Fortunately, the shelving staff at the Western History and Genealogy Department have developed the Colorado Directories Index, a tool that allows researchers to quickly identify the phone books and directories that contain a specific town. Here's how it works.
Let's say you're trying to figure where your great-grandmother lived during her lifetime and are pretty certain that she lived in the town of Erie in Weld County. Where would you start? After all, while Erie has experienced explosive growth over the past few years, for most of its history it was never populated enough to have its own phone book.
To figure out which phone books or directories contain Erie residents, simply open the Colorado Directories.PDF, hit CTRL +F and type *Erie in the search box. It's absolutely critical that you include the * in your search because that will take you directly to the main Erie entry. If you don't include the asterisk in your search, the search results will include every of the word Erie, no matter where it appears.
Under that *Erie heading, you'll see that during some years Erie listings appear in the Longmont phone book, while in other years, Erie appears in the Boulder or Denver phone books. Thanks to the Colorado Directories Index, you can view all of these titles in one place.
It's important to note that the Colorado Directories Index is a living document that is updated continuously by our shelving staff. The updated document will be posted on a quarterly basis.