Directories were published annually and provided a comprehensive list of the names, addresses and occupations of a significant proportion of the residents of a region. The detail you will find on each page will depend on which part of the directory the information comes from. Each volume is divided into:
• Civil establishment (government, courts, institutions, etc.)
• Street directory (for Belfast only)
• Residents list (for larger towns)
• Trades and professional directory
Generally, you will discover the name, address and occupation of each person recorded. Each volume also provides a description, as well as important statistical, economic and social information, for each place with a special emphasis on Belfast city. While directories are not comprehensive and generally exclude women (unless they were in a profession), and many of the labouring poor, they cover a wide proportion of the population.
This important collection documents the transformation of the north of Ireland. The directories prior to 1922 are entitled The Belfast and Province of Ulster Directory and cover all nine counties of the historic province. In 1923 the publication quietly dropped three counties (Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan) which were now part of the Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) and retitled itself the Belfast and Ulster Directory and provided details only about the six counties (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry (Derry), Fermanagh and Tyrone) that comprised the newly established Province of Northern Ireland which remained part of the UK. In 1948 it was to change the name again, this time becoming the Belfast and Northern Ireland Directory, in recognition of the confusion over retaining the name Ulster. The directory was published by the Belfast Newsletter, the world’s oldest English language daily newspaper still in publication, and was intended as a celebration of the city’s industrial prowess. It was firmly Unionist in political outlook and this is reflected in the priorities of the publication for inclusion.
These records have used OCR technology to create indexes. This means what has been indexed might not be quite what you expect. For example personal and place names may occasionally be confused. You should also try using wild cards (the * symbol) to find as wide a variety of spelling alternatives as you can. Lastly, forenames were often abbreviated in Directories. Our systems can deal with this most of the time, but not always.