The New York Public Library holds an extensive collection of historical telephone and city directories, in a variety of formats including microfilm, microfiche, print and subscription databases. In this guide, you'll find
The call numbers and location of the print and microfilm directories can be found by searching the in the Research Catalog. Resources will be listed within each geographic tab. For more information on the various formats, please see Formats.
The database resources are easier to access and search while the microform and print collections are more comprehensive in coverage. Gaps exist in the Library's holdings in all formats. Let us know if you are aware of any resource that should be added to this guide by emailing email@example.com.
First, view the catalog record and check item location.
If location is listed as offsite:
Click on "Request" for the item and select a location for delivery.
If location is listed as Schwarzman Building or SASB:
Two or more days ahead, please use this form: Advance Request of Research Material
Less than two days, please email us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Request in the Library
Requests can also be placed in the Rose Main Reading Room, room 315. Delivery time is about an hour. We recommend requesting in advance. After items arrive, they are held for two weeks. Please email us if you have questions or need assistance.
The traditional telephone directory, printed in book format. Generally lists the names, addresses and telephone numbers of subscribers in a particular geographic area in alphabetical order. Address directories allow the user to search by address and/or telephone number.
A storage method where material, a telephone book for example, is photographed at about 4% or 1/25th of the original size and stored on a reel (microfilm) or sheet (microfiche) of film. These formats are used with special reader machines which allow printing, downloading and emailing of images. Microforms are served in Room 315; advance requests can be made at this link.
Often the quickest way to get the information, this guide links to both licensed and freely available resources. All will be included within each geographic area with their coverage listed.
Licensed Resources (in library or with library card)
Ancestry Library Edition
Freely Available on the Internet
Brooklyn telephone directories (Brooklyn Public Library via Internet Archive)
HathiTrust Digital Library
New York City directories in NYPL Digital Collections
U.S. Telephone Directory Collection Library of Congress
Telephone Directory: listing the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of subscribers in a particular area. White Pages are for residential listings. Yellow Pages (or classified) are for business and organizational listings. Only landlines, not mobile phones are included. Unlisted numbers are not included.
City Directory: Before there were telephones or phone books, most cities and many smaller towns were served by city directories. Intended primarily as business directories, these early city directories include the profession or occupation of listed residents. Each entry typically lists the person's name, occupation, and a business address, followed by a home address, which is preceded by an "h."
Address Directory: also called a criss-cross or reverse directory, it allows the user to search by address and/or telephone number. Our holdings for New York City and its suburbs are generally 1929 to present. Unlisted numbers are not included.
Researchers of all levels are welcome to schedule an online consultation with a librarian. To schedule a consultation, please click on the link above or email us for assistance.