Search tips and guidance

You can search and browse hundreds of street directories by browsing through places and book titles, or searching the general directory sections of the directories. In addition you can filter your search results.

All the directories have been allocated to one of three categories — 'Scotland', 'Counties', 'Towns'.

Once you have found a book you can then:

Options on the left

You'll see some filters on the left that let you browse and search for specific results.

Click on a 'plus' sign Plus sign to see more options. (Click on the minus sign to hide them again.)

Browse by place and title

Within the three categories — 'Scotland', 'Counties', 'Towns' — the books are sorted by place. Books available for each place are separated by their title and sorted chronologically, starting with the title which was published earliest.

Example: Books for Paisley are listed under three different titles. The first title on the list covers the years 1838-1854, the second covers 1862-1884 and the last covers 1884-1912.

Tip: 'Counties' only lists the counties included in a book's title. To find other counties, choose the 'Place' filter on the left.


You can search by place, year or a specific resident's name in the general directories of all the books. The general directory is an alphabetical list of a place's residents by their surname.

If a place within a book doesn't have a general directory, then that place isn't searchable via the search boxes.

Tip: If you can't find a place, either use full text search or use the 'Place' filter on the left.

See full books only

Results may include full books and / or single pages. To see only full books, choose 'Form / genre' on the left, and then 'Complete directories'.

Tip: This option is only available if you leave the 'Start of name' box blank.

How search results are displayed

Note: Larger places, e.g. Edinburgh, will include results for smaller places also covered by that directory, e.g. Portobello. This is useful if you are unsure exactly where a person came from.

Tip: If you get no results for a small place, try searching for a larger place.

Tip: To search publication details of a book while also searching the general directory section, fill in the 'Place' and 'Year' boxes and leave 'Start of name' blank.

Use the filters on the left (or within 'Advanced search') to refine your results. You can combine them and use them in any order.

With the filters on the left, the terms listed for each filter are sorted by the number of books and pages they represent, not alphabetically or chronologically.

Results my be displayed as a combination of full books and individual pages. To see only full books, use 'Form / genre' and 'Complete directories'

Tip: Use 'Form / genre' and 'Complete directories' to reduce search results and only get search terms relating to book title and publication details, not individual page details.

Example: Using the 'Place' filter, choose 'South Lanarkshire'. You get 369 results spread across several books. Only three of those books have title or publication details that include a place located in South Lanarkshire — for example, Hamilton. Other results might be books like the 'Glasgow directory' which have individual pages with details of smaller places in South Lanarkshire. In this example, once you use the 'Complete directories' filter only the three Hamilton directories will remain in your results.

Find publisher, compiler or printer

Use the 'Person / organisation' filter to find a book's publisher, compiler or printer.

Once you are within a book, you can search the full text of that book using the 'Search within' option on the left and choosing 'Include book content'.

Full-text search across all directories

'Advanced search' offers full-text searching within all directories at once. Enter your text in the search boxes and choose 'Include book content'.

Accuracy of the full-text search is around 95%. Not getting positive results does not necessarily mean that your search term is not printed in the books. This search will look for the exact order of characters of your search term, so it may miss words if they are spelled differently in the books.

Tip: Shortening your terms to parts of words can help increase the search results. For street names, try abbreviations such as 'rd' for 'road'.