Over the past few months, as part of the IMLS grant funded St. Louis Freedom Suits Legal Encoding Project I have had the opportunity to assist in digitizing and reviewing transcriptions of numerous St. Louis City Directories dating from 1821 to 1877. As supplementary materials to the circuit court records, the city directories will provide valuable information about the people and places associated with the freedom suits. Akin to present day phone books (or more accurately online yelllow pages), the city directories documented people residing in St. Louis, their occupations, and their addresses. Business were also listed in the directories. The city directories are the most requested items at Missouri History Museum, which provided DLS many of these volumes to be digitized and whose staff also assisted in scanning the directories. These listings of people and businesses are no doubt invaluable to historians, genealogists, and casual researchers. Personally I've found it difficult not to read the text of these directories while scanning and reviewing transcriptions because of the wealth of interesting information they provide about St. Louis' past. Although the main content is the directory listings, I've found the advertisements to be equally engaging. Below is an excerpt from one of the advertisements, for a tailor that I found particularly amusing. One doesn't see tailors being praised so substantially these days.
John C.Zallee, Merchant Tailor
Our old friend. J. C. Zallee. No. 110 Olive Street, has achieved a triumph that, if it does not render his name immortal, will mark him as a brave man and most con-summate artist. Mr. Zallee, doubting the generally accepted theory that Paris is the world in regard to fashion,s made a suit of gentlemen's clothing, and sent it to the Exposition at paris, to compete for the prize, where there has been competition from all parts of the world, from the finest artists and mechanica in the tailoring line, whereall the crowned heads of the Continent have been to witness the competition in the industrial productions of the civilized world. Late advices from the Grand Exposition report Mr. Zallee successful, and St. Louis has the honor of having produced the finest gentlemen's clothing in this great competition; and our city should take a pride in the success of one of our own artizans, who so boldly and successfully accepted a challenge thrown down by Paris, the heretofore acknowledged fountain-head of all fashions.
And in addition, we would say that, at this year's (the Seventh Annual) Fair, Mr. Zallee has achieved a still greater triumph than he did at Paris. He has been awareded by the judges the first premium for a whole suit; coat, vest and pants; besides which, all our citizens who are competent judges award him their patron-age; for a better fit, either abroad or at home, cannot be had than at his. Eatablish-ment, No.110 Olive Street, between Main and Second.
Persons wishing fashionable clothing, should not fail to give Mr. Zallee a call, for, in the matter of taste and skill, he has no superior.