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  City directories are similar in nature to our phone books minus the phone numbers. They were regularly published for several major cities (including Brooklyn and New York City) as early as the 1800's. These listings included a person's name, occupation, and home address (denoted by the letter _h_). Business addresses were sometimes indicated. Some directories may have included the wife's name or  indicated whether a woman was a widow or head of household.

Street directories, often part of city directories, can be used to help determine the ward or census enumeration district where your ancestor lived. This information is extremely valuable when tracing your ancestor in the unindexed federal and state censuses.

Some city directories may contain a reverse street directory. This would lists streets alphabetically with the names of the people living at each address. As time went on, the directories became more detailed, often containing sections pertaining to businesses, churches, schools, associations, organizations, local government and community leaders.

City directories may be available in some larger libraries. Many older city directories are available on microfilm and can be ordered through your local
Family History Library. For Long Islanders, they are also available for viewing at the Patchogue Library (in the microfilm reading room). You may also order directories through the Suffolk County Library System. Below are some links which may provide additional information.
Rootsweb Guide to City Directories
    City Directories Essay by Leslie Corn
Consulting City Directories
  City Directory Links @ Cyndi's List