In the Beginning Was Page 50

The 1955 city directory for Peoria, Illinois, is included in’s “US City Directories 1822-1989.” In attempting to interpret an entry from that year, I wanted to look at the front of the book where the abbreviations are usually located. The “viewer” at allows one to go to specific images.

When viewing page 1, I expected to get a view of the cover of the book, the spine of the book, maybe the title page.

Instead I got page 50. Page 50 (click here for a look).


For what it is worth, the last image (633) does not appear to be the book either. As of this posting, it was page 24…of something.


7 thoughts on “In the Beginning Was Page 50

  1. Jane Coryell says:

    There was usually a lot of advertising in these directories, that was probably their purpose. Ancestry has probably omitted the advertising and just included the relevant information.

    • I’m not certain. If they removed the title page, abbreviations, and other prefatory material–that’s a problem. They included page after page of advertisements so I’m not certain ad removal was the real intent here.

    • Alison McIntyre says:

      If the ad was for your ancestor’s business it was not irrelevant. I tracked one family mainly through directory ads. When the proprietors changed from “James Lamont and William Anderson” to “Roger Lamont and William Anderson” it alerted me to the death of James. This was in Cincinnati at a time when there were no death records. The only proof I have been able to find is in the business notices in the newspaper which gave the exact date.

  2. A few years ago I contacted Ancestry re their big mixup of Georgia city directories. They finally sorted some of them out, but now complete years that were there before are missing, and yes, there are those that begin midway into a directory or end before the directory actually does. It would be good of Ancestry to make the statememnt that a directory is “partial” if that is the case.

  3. I beg to differ, feeling all info is relevant, including the ads. If you have a relative who was a small business owner, you REALLY want to see those ads. And how do you know what the abbreviations are if they don’t tell you? They are not all relevant. has a history of not caring about context – see what they did to the dated but still useful book on Scotch Irish in western Virginia. They made it into a database, and so the marriage of John and Mary is two disparate bits of info – marriage of John to a Mary and marriage of Mary to a John. You don’t get the bondsmen, or the witnesses, and cannot even tell if the John you see on Mary’s marriage is actually the same wedding, though the date, if there, is helpful.

    Not cool

  4. That’s not the only directory that has this problem. I’m sorry I can’t give you the year, but one of the Boston City Directories I was looking in yesterday is like this. Also, none of the directories I have looked at there have filmed the spine or cover. Since the search function doesn’t always work well with these directories, it’s important to be able to browse through the pages like a regular book. This is impossible in some cases when the sections are filmed out of order, or some of the pages are missing.

    In addition, there are a few directories that are categorized under the wrong location. For instance, I came across a Cambridge, MA directory listed with the Boston directories also. In the past, I have reported this type of error to ancestry, but I haven’t seen any corrections.

    It’s annoying.

  5. Actually this is quite common and so terribly misleading. Ancestry often digitizes just what they get and you don’t know what that is unless you browse the directory. Ancestry does not tell you up front that only names c-m are included or maybe just the ads. I have also found one directory from the 1900’s which is labeled 1872. I have emailed several times pointing this out and it still remains mislabeled. If you are pretty sure a person should be in a certain year and you don’t find them, it may very well be that the section you need is just not there.

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