3 Replies Latest reply on Jun 7, 2019 10:17 AM by Becca Simons

    Asterisks In Front of Names In City Directories



      I use City Directories quite frequently in my genealogy research. I have noticed in many of the Directories that there is an asterisk in front of an individual person's name. After checking the abbreviation section in each City Directory I am at a loss as to what the asterisk might designate. I do not see it every time I have seen an ancestor's name. I am sure that someone here must know what this is used for. Thanks in advance for any assistance on this.

      M. Carter

        • Re: Asterisks In Front of Names In City Directories
          J. Andrew Scout

          I should imagine that there is no single answer to that, as city directories would have been produced at the local level and there would have been no nationwide standard.

          • Re: Asterisks In Front of Names In City Directories

            Most of the city directories I am referring to are produced by R.L. Polk City Directories, a company that has been in business since 1870. In any given year, they published directories for multiple cities. I highly recommend this source to all of my genealogy friends. I finally found the answer to my question and I am posting it here in case someone else needs this information.


            In a 1911 Directory, after the Abbreviation section, it states, “An asterisk (*) before a name denotes colored.”


            As I stated previously, sometimes the asterisk is there and sometimes it is not so I assume that it was subjective and up to the enumerator. I do come across that from time to time.


            Happy Researching!

            • Re: Asterisks In Front of Names In City Directories

              Dear Ms. Carter,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              The date and location often determines what the asterisks meant. In a number of locations, asterisks usually was used to denote race of African American residents. In other cases, it was used to denote a new resident at a given address. Unfortunately, the directories did not include a key to the symbols used.


              We hope this information is helpful.


              [Information provided by Elizabeth Burnes, Subject Matter Expert]