In the United States, the first paper telephone directory was published on the 1st of February, 1878 in New Haven, Connecticut. In the present day, these telephone directories have become outdated as we have newer, faster and more accurate online directory services available to us, thanks to the internet.
However, these digital telephone directory services don’t account for the personal information recorded in older white or yellow pages from decades ago. Nevertheless, modern technology also offers a digital solution (old white pages listings) to this problem – we have a large number of commercially operated websites that provide alternatives to these old “paper-backed” telephone directories.
By using the websites mentioned below, you can search and find information from telephone directories of the 1940s, 50s, 60s and more. We’ll enlighten you with some basic information on how these websites work.
Sidenote: we’ve just published a guide on reverse phone number lookup. You can check it out after reading this one.
The ancenstry.com website stores decades old personal information in the form of digital images of dated white pages. It offers you an extensive collection of people’s names, addresses, occupations and businesses from as long ago as the 1920s, 30s and even the 40s.
This website is very easy to use as you can find the desired information by selecting a particular option. For instance, you can search for someone using their first or last name, or even their profession. It’s a good idea to use both browser and search function to view digital images page-by-page.
Once you have located the desired name by using the surname option, you can also find out other relatives living in the vicinity by cross-checking that surname.
The spyralsearch.com website has a vast database of information in the form of old white pages published between 1920 and 1990 throughout the United States. It’s easy to use this digital platform to dig out information from the past about old relatives, trace back your lineage or ancestry, or just find out general information regarding old business and places of interest to you.
Using this website, you can either download the digital images of old white pages online or purchase your desired directory on CD or DVD. This website is fully searchable through text which means you can easily refine your search by using the names of cities, states, streets and even an individual’s profession. You can also use the website to trace your family tree or genealogies.
The New York Public Library archives store the widest collection of old telephone directories published in the United States starting from the year 1883 to as recently as 2010. However, access to this directory service is restricted and can be obtained by making a request through the NYPL catalogue using the standard operating procedure outlined there.
The old directory collection on the NYPL website is arranged by names of cities and states in alphabetical order. This website is a very useful tool for researchers, writers and even the general public as it also contains manuscripts of old records apart from the phone directories.
The official website of the Library of Congress also provides database of old telephone directories published during the past two centuries. This online resource containing old phone directories is available in three different formats, namely images, PDF and webpages. Most of the data it stores has been obtained from books and other printed materials and then digitally converted and preserved.
Using this online directory service, you can customize your search by sorting out the data with reference to title, date, shelf order and more. You can view the listing in chronological order in the form of a list, and you can also switch to other options to view the listings differently as a grid, gallery or slideshow.
The above-mentioned four websites are some of the main online resources for old telephone directories and white pages available in the United States. There are many more such free white pages websites that offer the researcher a look into the past and find information about people, business and places that matter to them, even today.
Regardless of your social status, these websites are, indeed, very helpful in finding out information about people and places from the past for various purposes such as verification of genealogy or criminal records, tracing of business history, and more.
See also: how to find someone free of charge.