Trade directories developed to fulfil a role very similar to today’s business directories, to advertise the location of local businesses and tradespeople. They generally start in the late eighteenth century and are arranged by town or parish and contain information such as:
- Short history of the town or parish
- Population of towns and parishes
- Churches, schools, postal services, other public institutions
- Lists of prominent people and private residents
- List of tradesmen and women
For family historians these directories complement census returns and can be useful for tracking families between census years.
Microfiche copies of county and trade directories, dating from the 1830s-1941 are available at the Community History Centre at Wellington library.
Branch libraries hold photocopies of the relevant part of the directories covering their localities.
A different selection of historical directories for Shropshire, and all English counties, can be searched on a website created by the University of Leicester.