Old Phone Books Never Die

I was in the offices of Urban Mapping yesterday and they’ve got this great old SF yellow pages there. It’s from 1953, with a hard cover. Best of all it has a detective/private eye ad on the lower part of the front cover. CEO Ian White blogs about it. 

Photo: Urban Mapping

Another striking thing about it to me was how every inch of space on the cover, spine and even the pages (stamped, see above) have ads.


9 Responses to “Old Phone Books Never Die”

  1. Rob Luskey Says:

    Oh man I have boxes and boxes of old directories from my family’s old yellow page publishing business (1949 thru 1989). In the 1950’s we published several Las Vegas directories that had hard covers. They are now great historical artifacts documenting the growth of that city. You are absolutely right…every inch of these things were sold.

    To add a twist to the often repeated mantra that Print YP is dying……maybe it is actually just hiding in the attic 😉

  2. MiriamEllis Says:

    I wanted to see the private eye, Greg. Where is he?


  3. Greg Sterling Says:

    You can’t see it from this picture. But see: http://urbanmapping.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/img00012.jpg

    “Abbens Confidential”

  4. Greg Sterling Says:

    Rob: 🙂

  5. Chris Silver Smith Says:

    Some libraries keep copies of past year’s phone books — the books themselves are actually great resources for detectives trying to trace people and for geneological research.

    I guess there’ll be some sort of critical mass reached when Google Books finally scans in these vintage yellow pages books, rendering even them searchable by keyword!

  6. Joe DeBlasio Says:

    Hey Greg, this looks like a Thomas Register-type of publication rather than a Yellow Pages. That won’t change the observation you made but YP’s in those days had very few outside cover/sping/side ads if any.

    Hope you’re doing well.


  7. Greg Sterling Says:

    Thanks Joe. Busy as always. I’ll have to ask them if it is in fact a YP directory. I was clearly a consumer book, however, whatever it was in fact. See also Rob’s comments above re his parents’ library of directories.

  8. brenda hardy Says:

    any one having old phone books from augusta georgia dating back to 1900’s please let me know, we are working on a geonology project

  9. Al Duncan Says:

    I am one of those private investigator types from Canada and would love to get my hands on any older directories you may want to part with – I use them to locate missing birth parents and missing family members – Al (info@torontopi.com)

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