Relatively recently I have discovered what a wealth of information is available about my South Australian ancestors in the annual Boothby and then Sands and Macdougall Directories from 1864 to 1973 that are available online to view for free at the State Library of South Australia web site.

What I am yet to discover is how to distinguish residential from business addresses and how to interpret the street names and numbers?

I am aware of this warning from the web site above:

Things to remember:

  • From 1873 a street by street listing was compiled for the city, listing both businesses and private dwellings by location. Note that street numbers in the city have changed at least twice.

Here I will use just one directory and one of my ancestors to see if someone has any advice on how to interpret them.

These are two entries in the Sands and Macdougall Directory for 1900 that I believe correspond to my 2nd great grandfather Robert John Steven Sellers/Sellars about whom I have previously asked:

Although he was born in Albany, New York, USA of Scottish parents, the entries below are from Adelaide, South Australia where he spent most of his adult life.

On page 23/1182 (in the ALPHABETICAL STREET DIRECTORY) I find an entry 160 Sellars, R, civil service and on the previous page there is a subheading of Regent st under a larger heading of Halifax st - N side

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On page 881/1182 (in the ALPHABETICAL DIRECTORY) I find another entry SELLARS R J. S., draughtsman, 160 Halifax St

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Read together I am confident that his occupation is Draughtsman and his employer is the Civil Service - this corresponds to much other information I have about him.

I am not certain whether his address is residential or work (but I suspect the former) and whether at that time it was 160 Regent Street or 160 Halifax Street (I think the latter).

Does someone perhaps know how to turn the above address information into a modern Adelaide street address that I could look at via Google StreetView or next time I am in Adelaide?

If the above corresponds to 160 Halifax Street, Adelaide, South Australia today then I think clicking here has you looking at it.

1 Answer 1


If the layout is similar to the City Directories I am familiar with from the New England region in the USA, your 'subheading' of Regent Street is an indication where Regent Street crosses Halifax Street.

Unless there has been a massive re-naming and re-numbering, these cross-street indicators allow the reader to see whether there have been re-numberings and re-namings since the period the directory was printed, by checking against a modern map.

The town where my husband's parents grew up has a GIS system for the property tax records -- from the city's website, I can download beautifully-detailed PDFs with the parcel numbers indicated. Using major landmarks such as cemeteries, it is easy to find one's place, and from there, determine how much of the grid has changed since the historical directories were printed. The directories from New England often included a map in the front of the directory.

You can also test to see if the Regent Street marking and any others are cross-streets by cross-checking the other neighbors on Halifax street against the Alphabetical section of the directory.

  • I think you are right about how they are using the cross streets to categorize the households. Walking east along Halifax street, passing the intersection with Regent Street and going another 10 small parcels would place me pretty much exactly where Google Maps does. I am going to proceed on the hypothesis that 160 Halifax was his residential address.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 0:00
  • Even if you only have access to one directory, you can cross-check other entries in the directory itself, and try to correlate the information with that of other records.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 3:38
  • I have access to 1864-1973 (he lived in South Australia from 1878-1908) so there is much cross-checking that I can do. I'm hoping to tap into some hints that South Australian genealogists may be able to provide through their many years of working with and interpreting these directories to shortcut my learnings.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Jan 24, 2015 at 3:43

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