Monday, November 24, 2008

Baltimore: Who What Where

Major cities have directories that go back to the 1700s. They provide important information such as full name, address, employment and individuals living at the same address. There was a need to locate residents of a community for delivery of mail and other goods, and governments kept track of residents for taxation. Genealogy societies, Archives and libraries have these available on microfilm. You have to go to the city or State in question to gain access. A good place to learn even more about directories is at the following link: AboutCityDirectories.

The directories were published to sell advertising space. Inside, outside and all around the margins are the sponsors. The image on the right shows an example of the 1906 Baltimore City Directory. This is two years after the great Baltimore Fire that destroyed much of downtown. The Hotel Rennert stresses that it is a fireproof building.

We will explore pre 1920 directories for the whereabouts of Babe Ruth's father. The directory for the year 1906, the directory is divided in two parts. The front part has all of the citizens alphabetized by last name. The back matter is alphabetized by types of business. The image at the right shows page 1730. George H. Ruth is listed about 10 names down from the second column. It simply states "Ruth Geo H, saloon, 406 w Conway". Further down is his brother " Ruth John A, propr Baltimore City Lightning Rod Works, 341 s Woodyear".

Some city directories are online and are free to access from a home computer. Once again we can use Heritage Quest that is accessible from Http:// A library card number is needed to proceed. We selected Research databases and then Genealogy. We clicked on Heritage Quest and entered our card number. We then selected Books followed by Publications. In the dialogue box we entered "Baltimore". The second and third items list Baltimore City directories for 1912 and 1913.

Select 1912 and go to page 1751 that appears to the right. George and John are living in the same locations respectively. John's occupation is Coppersmith.

Select 1913 and go to page 1769 that appears to the right. The following entry is shown"Ruth Geo H, (Columbia Harness Co) h 552 w Conway". The entry for his brother is on the next page that also appears to the right. It appears as "Ruth John A R, electrn, h 341 s Woodyear". Doing a Google search for "Columbia Harness" AND Ruth did not provide anything.

At this time the R L Polk Company published the directories. If we entered "R L Polk" in the dialogue box, 1277 books appear. Advance to the next page of results and the fourth result is the 1899 directory. Select that book and proceed to page 1244 that appears to the right. The entry for this time is "Ruth Geo H, (J A Ruth & Bro) 339 s Woodyear". Further down, the entry for his brother is "Ruth J A & Bro (John A jr & Geo H Ruth), lightning rod mnfrs, 341 s Woodyear". The houses are next to each other.

Historical Societies and Archives may also have old Telephone directories. Back then phones were still a premium item and not everyone is listed. The image to the left is the 1917 C & P Telephone Company book for Baltimore and Vicinity. On page 250 we find "St Paul 8335 Ruth Geo H, café 36 38 s Eutaw". Two entries down may or may not be his brother "St Paul 5632 Ruth John A, contr sand & gravel 213 Courtland". In the business section, George is listed under Restaurants.


About City Directories

Baltimore County Public Library

Copyright 2008 BabeRuthGenealogy