Those who have used Polk City Directories in their research know how valuable they can be in tracking individuals, institutions, and businesses over time. But it’s hard to know exactly how the directories were assembled and why information is presented as it is. A receipt found among records from the Murray City School District sheds just a sliver of light on part of the process.
This receipt, from January 1906, indicates that an individual or business could pay $6.00 to get their name listed in a special type in the directory and receive a copy. Here, district superintendent Gideon M. Mumford paid R. L. Polk Co. agent, to have his name done in “Display Type” and to receive a directory when it was published. Mr. Mumford listed his name, occupation, and home address as he wished it listed in the directory. So that explains why some individuals or companies are listed in bold type in the directories. It wasn’t because they were extra important – it was because they paid for the privilege.
Gideon M. Mumford, first superintendent of Murray City School District, in his office in 1909. Mumford served as superintendent of Murray Schools from 1905 until 1912. Since this receipt really has nothing to do with school district business, Mr. Mumford must have left it behind. It likely just got filed with district records accidentally and has remained there ever since.