There is such a broad range of records available on Findmypast. While so much family history research focuses on documents such as birth records, other sources such as registers compiled into books, and periodicals and almanacs, can offer an alternative route, and sometimes offer extra contextual information which might not be available via other collections.
This fantastically broad collection spans Scotland-London over nearly 700 years, and can shed a unique light on your ancestor's early years. Consisting of digitised copies of school and university register books, each includes a full register of former pupils. These detailed lists often include biographical nuggets such as birth dates, fathers' names, employment after school, and other family information. The books, which cover the world famous Oxford and Cambridge universities, also tend to include a full history of the institute, plus lists of former headmasters, sports teams, staff, and photographs. In addition, many of the registers written after World War 1 include military details of alumni of the Great War.
These incorporate three publications, covering 1783, 1812, 1818, and 1824. The first is John Watson Stewart's Almanac, which covers a tremendous amount of information on topics ranging from army lists to mail coaches, to farming and schools. The English Court Registry is a detailed list of key individuals of the day, such as royalty, MPs, and Army and Navy Officers. Wilson's Dublin Directory is a useful guide to trade in the city, listing streets, lanes, and alleys, in addition to details of merchants and traders.
The Periodical Source Index is a vast index containing over 2.5 million entries from thousands of historical, genealogical and ethnic publications in the USA. A simple means of accessing articles and photos from specific locales, PERSI is an invaluable research tool which can provide vital identification for research, records and transcriptions that might not be found in any other print or online source. Most of PERSI's articles are from periodicals covering the United States and Canada, but it also includes thousands of genealogy and local history entries (in both English and French) from Britain, Ireland and Australia.
Directories are a valuable means of pinpointing where and when a person lived, making them a great census substitute where no censuses are available. Furthermore, they can offer additional contextual insight into the society your ancestor lived in, their profession, and social life. Advertisements in the directories can be equally helpful, and most of the text - including the ads - is searchable. Many small businesses needed to ensure the public was aware of their activity and one of the better ways to do this in an age before media dominated was via a directory.