Notes of Interest for Using City Directories

The directories do not include street indexes prior to 1890 (with the exception of 1840-41 which has a street cross index). Prior to that year, the directories only include a surname index of residents.

By the 1940s, the directories begin to include outlying areas of Charleston, such as the Navy Base/North Charleston, East of the Cooper, and West of the Ashley. In some 1940s and 1950s editions, the suburb areas of Charleston are indexed in separate sections, so researchers should take care to note what locality they are searching under.

Beginning in 1905, African American and White residents are segregated into separate resident indexes. This separation is not reflected in the street indexes. As many of the neighborhoods of Charleston were integrated, black and white residents will appear side by side in the street/address section of the directory.

The directories typically include a key to abbreviations for occupations and business listings. One of the most common abbreviations in the antebellum directories is FPC, which denotes a free person of color. From the end of the Civil War until 1905 when the directory listings were segregated, a C will often appear next to a name, which notes that the person was “colored.” There is no distinction between mulatto or black residents under the C heading.

In 1936, city directories began to list telephone numbers. By the 1970s, the directories include much of the Greater Charleston area, including Ladson, Goose Creek, and Adams Run.

Available as abstracts in book form or on microfiche

1735, 1782, 1785, 1790, 1794, 1801, 1802, 1803, 1806, 1807, 1809, 1813, 1816, 1819, 1822, 1825, 1829, 1830-31, 1835-36, 1836, 1837-38, 1840-41, 1849, 1852, 1855, 1856, 1859, 1860

Available online in HeritageQuest

1830, 1859, 1866, 1867, 1869, 1872-1884, 1886-1925, 1927-1932, 1934

On microfilm

1866, 1867-68, 1869-70, 1871, 1872-3, 1875, 1876 through 1886, 1888 through 1932

Original Books

1934, 1936, 1938, 1940, 1942, 1944-45, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1968 to the present, except for 1995 and 2002