Updated with some tips on using the DigitalNC site, for browsing, reading, and downloading city directories. Scroll to bottom.
Random history. Fire alarm box locations in the towns of Burlington and Graham, as printed in the Burlington, Graham and Haw River, N.C. City Directory, 1920-21. It’s one of hundreds available from DigitalNC.
Interested in the history of your fire department? Look to city directories for summary information, station addresses, and even the names of members, with their occupation (BFD, “fire dept”, etc.) beside their name and address.
Some city directories also included a list of fire alarm box locations, in those cities and towns with such systems. As memory serves, these lists appear in earlier versus later directories. Say, 1890s, 1900s, 1910s, 1920s. Your mileage may vary.
Click to enlarge:
Tips ‘n’ Tricks
What’s the best way to browse these city directories on the Digital NC site, and without convoluted click paths or endless searching and scrolling? Here’s my workflow, though be warned, it requires some up-front time and bandwidth.
- Find the city or town that you’re seeking.
- Find the earliest city directory available.
- Open that directory in a new window.
- Click Download and save a PDF copy. This may take a few minutes, as these files are large.
- Close that window, and repeat with the next available directory.
- Rinse and repeat, until you’ve saved copies of all available directories.
- Open the first of the saved directories, which are PDF files.
- Use the PDF reader on your computer to easily browse, scroll, or even search (using Find) for text strings.
But wait, Batman, what about the search featured, in the individual directory display window? That’s also useful, but can be a bit clunky. If searching on two or more words, use quotation marks. Such as “fire alarm.”
There’s also powerful search features on other screens, such as the one listing all available years for a particularly city or town. And across all of the city directories, and all of DigitalNC.