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Directories are alphabetical lists of names and addresses. Some German directories list all the adult residents or tradesmen who lived in a town or area at the time the directory was published. A directory of book sellers was published in Augsburg in 1564. The earliest German city directory, for the city of Halle, was published in 1701. Directories have become common since then. The German Term is "''Adressbuch''", plural "''Adressbücher''".
Address books, AKA city directories, can be a big help when researching in larger towns and cities. Some directories cover a larger, more rural area, such as a Kreis. Others exclude large segments of the population. For example, the city directory of Vienna, Austria, does not list servants and laborers for many years. Some address books only include businesses [like today’s “Yellow Pages”]. It pays to check out the book’s introduction pages.
In recent years, directories have usually been published annually and may include names, addresses, occupations, and other helpful facts. Particularly in large cities with several parishes, addresses often help you find your ancestor's parish. Directories sometimes have town maps and may include addresses of churches, cemeteries, civil registration offices, and other locations of value to the genealogist.
The modern counterpart are telephone directories.
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