There are two sources of information that we have chosen to utilize in the MHMS project: Street & Trade Directories and Census Documents. Below we provide a little information about each.
The Census is a national initiative to collect demographic information for the entire country. The results are relatively reliable and the information collected is consistent across regional areas. The Census goes into some depth about individuals, offering us information about items such as age, gender, and occupation.
The Street & Trade directories do not go into this level of detail and usually provide little more than a company’s or individual’s name and address. Furthermore, unlike the Census, Directories do not conform to a national template. There was no single, de facto, publisher of Directory listings but, rather, many competing against each other; generally producing output on an annual basis to identify businesses and individuals in a local area. As a result, listings varying in quality, both in terms of their area-coverage and their information content. What’s more, there are occasionally multiple publishers within a single year.
We could have chosen to use additional records within the MHMS project, such as tax documents and electoral lists, but Census information and street and trade Directories are readily available, easily processed, and provide an excellent starting point for discovering who actually lived in a property - in distinction to ownership issues, etc..