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Library notes: City directories as a historical research tool

By Amber Covington

Rowan Public Library

Remember city directories that listed the names and occupations of everyone who lived in a house? A person could simply look up a street address by a last name and find the person they were looking for.

Today we have phone books and they only list home phone numbers with the person’s name that is on the company’s account and his or her address. Therefore we do not know if we have the right person’s home phone number. These also leave out many people who do not own home phones.

Searching for contact information can be very challenging. As our phone needs have changed over the years, our historical and research needs have not. When looking for an individual who may have lived here in Salisbury during the 1940s, check out the city directories available at the Rowan Public Library Edith M. Clark History Room to find his or her home address and occupation of the time.

This is an easy way to help you find out the names of businesses in town, their neighbors, and if you have the correct person. Small details such as occupation can be crucial information when searching for individuals who lived years ago.

If you ever find yourself searching for a relative or business among Main Street in Salisbury during your historical research, consider using a city directory. Thumbing through a directory reveals the past lives of many and how they contributed to the makeup of Salisbury.

Businesses placed advertisements throughout the directory. Many times this provides a glimpse of the services they provided during a certain time frame.

If you ever wonder who lived at your house in previous years, search through a city directory. The lives of the people and neighbors who lived in the same house or neighborhood come alive in simple print on the pages of city directories.

Ready to begin your adventure into the past lives of Rowan County residents? Consider the city directories awaiting you in the history room.

Chapter Chats Book Club: A weekly club for teens 14-17, primarily for participants with developmental or intellectual disabilities, but all are welcome. Meets at East branch meeting room, Tuesdays, 5 p.m., Dec. 13, 20.

Book Bites Book Club: South (China Grove), Dec. 13, 6-7 p.m. Free, open to the public. We discuss a different book each month and serve refreshments loosely related to the theme. “Fair and Tender Ladies,” by Lee Smith. Need a copy? Call 704-216-7731.

No-School Cinema: Dec. 22, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., East Branch, Rockwell. This Marvel Marathon features “Iron Man” I, II and III. All three films are rated PG-13 and have run-times of, respectively, 126 minutes, 124 minutes and 130 minutes. “Iron Man I” begins at 9:30 am, “Iron Man II” at noon, and “Iron Man III” at 2:30 p.m. All ages are welcome. Children ages 13 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public.

Movie Night at East: “Rear Window,” Dec. 28, 6 p.m., East Branch, Rockwell. Starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, this murder mystery is as well-crafted narratively as it is aesthetically. This film is PG; runtime is 112 minutes. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Family Movie Night: Dec. 13, 5:30 p.m., East Branch, Rockwell. “Arthur Christmas.” Can Santa deliver billions of presents to the world in one night? With Arthur’s help and determination, not one child will be forgotten. Rated PG, this film has a runtime of 97 minutes. Families and all ages welcome. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public.

Treemendous Christmas: Dec. 14, 10 a.m.-noon, headquarters. Join us for holiday stories and fun, with a special visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus. For more information call 704-216-8234.

Adult Outreach Movie: “Deck the Halls,” Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and Dec. 20 at 2:30 p.m., headquarters. Christmas decorating turns into a feud between neighbors (Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick) in this 2007 film. Rated PG, this film has a runtime of 92 minutes. Light refreshments will be served. This event is free, open to the public, and all ages are welcome.

Displays for December: Headquarters, National Parks 100th Year Celebration; East, “It’s a Wonderful Life” Village, Tammie Foster; South, Carson High School student art work.

Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second  language.

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