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United States: City and Telephone Directories

U.S. Telephone Directories

The Library of Congress makes available to the public an extensive collection of United States telephone and reverse telephone (criss-cross) directories in many different formats. The inventory in this guide is organized by state and details the available directories by city or town and year.

How to Access Historic Telephone Directories

John Vachon, photographer. Telephone and directory. Dubuque, Iowa. 1944. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Past telephone directories may be accessed in digital, microfilm, phonefiche, or print format, as specified in the state inventories within this guide. For a general understanding of the availability for each format, here are some facts about the collection:

Digital

  • Pre-1976 directories for fourteen states (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania), the District of Columbia, and the city of Chicago have been microfilmed and digitized by the Library of Congress. They can be requested in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center or viewed online in the Library's Digital Collections. Also see the Online Resources section of this guide.

Microfilm (Self-Serve)

Microfilm and Phonefiche (By Request)

  • Telephone directories for many U.S. cities and towns from 1976 through 1995 can be accessed through phonefiche housed in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center (LJ 139B). (Staff will pull these items for you from Deck 36.)
  • Microfilmed telephone directories that have not been digitized and are not part of the New York City collection may be requested in the Microform and Electronic Resources Center. (Staff will pull these items for you from Deck 47.)

Print

  • Any directories in this index that are not specified as microfilm, phonefiche, or digital, are available to view in printed form. Print copies of telephone directories are served in the Science & Business Reading Room on the 5th floor of the John Adams Building.

How to Access Current Telephone Directories

Current U.S. telephone directories (white and yellow pages) in print format are located on Deck 46 which is entered through Alcove 4 in the Main Reading Room. They are arranged alphabetically by state, and are shelved before the city and reverse telephone directories for that state.

Since many of these directories contain listings for more than one community, you may need to consult two reference tools in order to determine which telephone book contains the listings for a particular community.

  • The first tool to examine is the Community Cross-Reference Index, found on the consulting table adjacent to the U.S. directories. It consists of two sections: Community Index, which identifies the directory in which a specific community's listing can be found, and Directory Coverage, which is a list of all the communities covered by a specific directory.
  • If you cannot find a listing for a community in the Cross-Reference Index, consult the card catalog, which is located near the directory collection. The labels on the catalog drawers are color coded for easy identification: blue is for the U.S. telephone directory catalog.

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