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Directories By Address: Inventories of Library Collections

City Business & Other Directories

City Business Directories were created by private publishers and include individuals as well as businesses. Historically, what they included and how the geographical coverage was handled, varied by publisher. Many, but not all, of these directories did have a reverse lookup function by address. Other points to note:

  • Not every person or business was included.
  • Often an entry for a person included their employer or the business they owned. Conversely, a business listing could include owners/officers.
  • Some publishers identified businesses owned by African Americans with an asterisk.

The Library of Congress has many of these directories in print, on microform, and available electronically. Many of these directories do not have catalog records so you must request them in person by submitting a paper request in either the Main Reading Room or the Science & Business Reading Room. You will request them by place (city/county) and year(s). An inventory of directories in microformat can be seen at the link below is an inventory of directories in microform. These directories can only use them in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center but it is self-serve. Lastly, some of these directories have been digitized in subscription databases like and Archives Unbound as well as by the Library's web. See the entries below for information on access.

The Library of Congress also has a collection of telephone books from places around the United States and abroad. None of these items is contained in the catalog. You must request them in person and it is best done in the Science and Business Reading Room. There is some inventory for the United States—see link below—but it isn't complete. The Library also has many telephone directories from around the world but there is no comprehensive inventory for them all. However, staff have been creating individual inventories for some places like countries in Eastern Europe and the Balkan area so over time those may have inventories as well.

Please see a reference librarian for assistance if you have any questions about any of these directories. The subscription resources marked with a padlock are available to researchers on-site at the Library of Congress. If you are unable to visit the Library, you may be able to access these resources through your local public or academic library.

Additional Library of Congress Research Guides

Requesting a Large Number of Directories

This guidance is for those interested in requesting a large number of print directories housed in the John Adams Building including Street Address, Criss-Cross, Telephone Books, and City Business Directories. These directories are not in the catalog, so there are separate steps for requesting these items. Please read these policies carefully before making a request:

  • Directories are served in the Science & Business Reading Room on the 5th floor of the John Adams Building. 
  • Directory requests need to be submitted in person via paper slip at the book services desk in the Science & Business Reading Room.
  • There is a maximum of 40 directories per person per day. Requests that contain more than 40 directories will be truncated at 40 items. 
  • We strongly encourage submitting bulk directory requests at least 24 hours in advance in person. Same day requests can take up to 2 hours.
  • Directory requests need to include (a) type of directory: Street Address, Criss-Cross, Telephone Book, or City Business), (b) location, including state, and (c) specific years. Library staff will only pull the volumes that are specifically requested.
  • Once you’ve arrived, check in at the book service desk so staff can deliver your cart of directories.
  • No carts are kept in the reading room overnight; let staff know if you plan to continue to use the directories at a future appointment.

Effective April 4, 2022