Trade Directories have been produced for over 300 years and provide an invaluable source of first-hand information about individuals within a community and the local infrastructure at a given moment in history.
The National Library of Scotland (https://digital.nls.uk) and the Internet Archive (https://archive.org) have digitised a number of National, Scottish Trade Directories that cover Ross-shire and to date we have transcribed directories for 1825/26, 1837, 1861, 1878, 1886, 1903 and 1911.
Trade Directories were not always accurate or complete, information was often obtained by personal canvassing, sometimes publishers simply asked people to send in their names with a small payment if they wanted to be included in the directory. Occasionally an unscrupulous publisher would copy a competitor’s directory and pass it off as his own work. As time went on postal officials (like Frederick Kelly) became involved in publishing directories, aiding their official work while generating an extra income, the information being collected by letter carriers, who circulated forms during their postal rounds and delivering the finished directory on commission.
Nineteenth century directories exhibit a bias towards the gentry and higher-status trades and traders simply because they listed those sections of society that supplied potential customers for their information. In this respect they provide a unique insight into social gradations and the socio-economic structure of a community, especially when used in conjunction with the census although this presents a problem in terms of the sheer volume of data available for large urban centres.
It is intended to use the 1911 Slater's Royal National Commercial Directory of Scotland ... (Royal National Directory of Scotland) in conjunction with the census, the Inland Revenue Survey and the Ordnance Survey Field Books and maps to better understand the geography of Victorian Rosemarkie. We will investigate the physical structure of the village and land use. Using the Directory and census we will look at the spatial sorting of the population, inward migration, the impact of occupational variations and from the IRS we should be able to glean details of housing conditions and sanitation to discover what it was really like to live in a Victorian village on the Black Isle.