Background Reading and Lists

The Source. Social Science and History Department (SSH) 929.1072 So84e. (All call numbers are Free Library of Philadelphia call numbers). A good essay on directories.

Bibliography of American Directories Through 1860. SSH/STX 016.9173 Sp31b. Gives the definitive list of early Philadelphia City Directories.

Free Library of Philadelphia (FLP)

Researching your Family History at the Parkway Central Library. A handout. SSH Reference Desk.

To make full use of the FLP directory collection, you must be able to make keyword searches on the online catalog. When making keyword searches, keep in mind that there are many words used to describe directories: DIRECTORY, REGISTER, ANNUAL, GUIDE, and YEARBOOK, just to name a few. If you have difficulties making a keyword search, ask a librarian for assistance. The materials listed below are only SOME of the directories available at FLP.


Philadelphia City Directories, various publishers, 1785-1936, with gaps. Newspapers and Microfilm Center (NEWS). City directories for 1880 and 1881, when used with An Urban Finding Aid for the 1880 Federal Population Census of Philadelphia, SSH 917.4811 St62u, can be used as a substitute index to the 1880 census of Philadelphia. The 1898 and 1910 city directories have tables that convert old street names to new street names. Directories for 1930 and 1936 indicate first names of wives. The 1811 directory contains a "Directory of Coloured Persons." Much useful information, such as lists of cemeteries, churches, and hospitals, is included at the beginning or end of most directories. For similar lists after 1936, see The Bulletin Almanac, 1924-1976, SSH R917.481 B87 (microfilm). For a complete list of early Philadelphia city directories, see Bibliography of American Directories Through 1860. SSH/STX 016.9173 Sp31b. For a list of the earliest city directories held by the Library of Congress, see American Genealogist, Vol. 13, 1937, pp. 46-53 and vol. 27, 1951, p. 142. SSH 929 Am317g (microfilm).

Philadelphia Telephone Directories, white pages, 1879-present, with gaps. NEWS.

Philadelphia Telephone Directories, yellow pages, 1912-present, with gaps. NEWS.

Keystone Directories, 1902-1943. NEWS. Gives business and professional persons indexed alphabetically and also listed by classification of business or professional activity.

Suburban Philadelphia Telephone Directories, white and yellow pages, 1902-present. NEWS.

Philadelphia Reverse Telephone Directories, 1927-present. NEWS, except for the most recent year which is in SSH. Most current reverse directory information can be found on the Internet.

Suburban Philadelphia Reverse Telephone Directories, 1929-present. NEWS, except for the most recent one which is in SSH.

Polk's Greater Camden Directory, 1882-1940, with gaps. SSH/STX R917.4988 H83.

Philadelphia Realty Directory and Service, 1926-1959, with gaps. Business, Science and Industry Department (BSI)/STX (oversize) 333 P53r. Indexed alphabetically by street name and then by street number. Shows owners of Philadelphia properties. Earlier issues have a second index arranged alphabetically by name of property owner and show all properties owned by specific individuals.

Numerous Philadelphia guide books have been written over the years. They can serve as a directory to Philadelphia institutions. Ask at the Social Science and History Department reference desk for a guidebook located closest in time to the time of interest.

Almanacs also provide some directory information. For a complete list of early almanacs by state, see Almanacs of the United States. SSH/STX 016.3173 D789a.


Philadelphia Business Directories, various titles, 1832-1931, with gaps. BSI (microfilm).

Philadelphia Old and New: From the Cradling of Liberty to the Centralization of Commerce. BSI 330.9748 L765p.

Pennsylvania Historical Review. Gazetteer, Post Office, Express and Telegraph Guide. City of Philadelphia. Leading Merchants and Manufacturers. Map Collection (MAP) 917.48 P3862h.

Illustrated Philadelphia: Its Wealth and Industries, 1889. MAP 917.481 IL6 and A917.481 Il62p.

Philadelphia, Pa.: the Book of Its Bourse and Co-operating Public Bodies, 1898-99. SSH 917.481 En3.

Philadelphia and Its Manufactures, 1858. SSH 917.481 F871. Lists manufacturers by product and gives addresses of manufacturers.

Directory of Directors, 1900-1918. SSH/STX R917.481 D62. Lists Philadelphia board members.

Guide to American Business Directories, 1948. BSI/STX 016.65 D29.

Use the online catalog to make a title search with BOYD'S or POLK'S as the first word. Numerous directories are listed here.

The Map Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia has a Business Index Binder that contains photocopies of indexes of various publications that list historical Philadelphia businesses.


Martin's Bench and Bar of Philadelphia, 1883. SSH 923.4 M362. Lists lawyers admitted to the Philadelphia Bar, 1682-1883.

Twentieth Century Bench and Bar of Pennsylvania. SSH/STX R923.4 T91.

Hubbell's Legal Directory, 1876-7, 1902-1927 with gaps. Government Publications Department (GPD)/STX 340 H86.

Martindale Hubbell Law Directory, 1918-present. GPD/STX 340 M36.

Legal Directory (Philadelphia), 1885-1989, with gaps. SSH/STX R923.4 D63.

Lawyers Directory, 1894-1935 with gaps. GPD/STX 340 Sh2.


Polk's Medical Register, 1902-1914 with gaps. SSH/STX R926.1 P75.

American Medical Directory, 1906-1982 with gaps. SSH/STX R926.1 Am3.

Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804-1929. BSI 610.2573 D628o. From 1930 to 1969, contact the National Genealogical Society; they will search this time period for a fee.

Polk's Dental Register, 1900-1928 with gaps. SSH/STX R926.1 P751.

Extinct Medical Schools of Nineteenth-Century Philadelphia. BSI/STX 610.71 Ab82e.

Standard History of the Medical Profession of Philadelphia. BSI/STX R610.9 H39.

History of the Philadelphia Almshouses and Hospitals. SSH R362 L43.

Philadelphia: World's Medical Center. SSH R362 P532.

Founder's Week Memorial Volume. BSI 974.81 P5351. Brief histories of Philadelphia's Medical Institutions.

Philadelphia Physicians Portrayed in Art, 12 vols. SSH/STX A974.81 B72.

Thomas Jefferson University: a Chronological History and Alumni Directory, Annotated and Illustrated 1824-1990. Education, Philosophy and Religion Department (EPR)/STX 378.7481 T364w.


Complete Army and Navy Register of the United States of America, from 1776 to 1887. SSH/STX 355 H171.

Historical Register and Dictionary of the United States Army, 1789-1903. SSH 923.5 H365h2 and GPD/STX W 3.11: 789-903.

(Powell's) Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Army. SSH/STX R923.5 H1713 (1884). R923.5 P87 (1890).

Official Army Register, 1831, 1842-1976. GPD/STX D 102.9:

Army List and Directory, 1893-1941. GPD/STX W 3.10:

Official Army National Guard Register, 1922-1976 with gaps. GPD/STX D 12.9:

Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point..., and suppls. 1802-1930. SSH/STX R923.5 C89.

Register of Graduates and Former Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1912-1991. SSH 923.5 R263o.

List of Officers of the Navy of the United States and of the Marine Corps from 1775 to 1900. SSH/STX 923.5 C13.

The Records of Living Officers of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. SSH/STX R923.5 H17 (1870). R923.5 H1711 (1878). R923.5 H1714 (1890). R923.5 H1712 (1898).

Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps. 1945-1984, with gaps. GPD/STX D 208.12:

Naval Reserve Register. 1921-1982 with gaps. GPD/STX D 208.12/2:

Annual Register of the United States Naval Academy. 1865-1970 with gaps. GPD/STX D 208.107:

Register of Alumni, United States Military Academy, 1845-1980. SSH 359.0071 Un3r.

Index of the Roll of Honor, Daughters of the American Revolution, SSH 369 D2611. Serves as an index to Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Book, vols. 1-166. SSH/STX A369 D261 (shelved with monographs).

Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution: Centennial Register 1888-1988. SSH 369.13 C333r.

Chronicle of the Union League of Philadelphia. SSH/STX 369 UN311.

For other patriotic organizations, use the online catalog to make a keyword search on significant words in the name of the organization. For example, DAUGHTERS REVOLUTION. Names of these organizations are listed inThe Hereditary Register of the United States. SSH 369.1 H42r.

There are many other military directories organized by war, by military service, or by other schemes. They can be located by making keyword searches on the online catalog.


Official Register of the United States. GPD/STX CS1.31: (microfilm). Lists government officials, military officers, and other persons associated with the federal government.

Martin's Bench and Bar of Philadelphia, 1883. SSH 923.4 M362. Gives historical lists of public officials in Philadelphia by office held.

Biographical Annals of the Civil Government of the United States. SSH R923.2 L2711.

See the CITY AND TELEPHONE DIRECTORIES section of this handout, above. Public officials are listed in the front or back of many city directories.


Social Register of Philadelphia, 1898-1976. SSH/(microfilm, filed as periodical) 917.481 So1.

Official Club Directory of Philadelphia, 1891, 1893, 1894, 1902. SSH/STX 367 Of22.

Club Men of Philadelphia, 1894, 1895. SSH/STX 367 Sh5.

Polk's Philadelphia Blue Book, 1881-1927. SSH/STX (and microfilm) R917.481 D4-B.

Philadelphia Red Book, 1880, 1886. SSH/STX R917.481 P533. Indexed by street name then by surname.

Directory of American Society: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, 1929-1930. SSH/STX 917.4 D62.

Use the online catalog to make keyword searches on significant words in the names of specific clubs. For example, UNDINE BARGE.


Encyclopedia of Associations, 1956-present, with gaps. Latest edition as database Associations Unlimited, available at all Free Library locations. SSH/STX 061 G131e7.

Associations of the Greater Philadelphia Region, updated annually and at SSH shelved with 061.3 En19o.

Invisible Philadelphia: Community Through Voluntary Organization. SSH 974.811 In84p. A valuable tool for doing historical research on Philadelphia organizations.

A Directory of the Charitable, Social Improvement, Educational, and Religious Associations and Churches of Philadelphia, 1903. SSH 917.481 C49. Arranged by type of organization. Indexed by name of organization.

A List of Some of the Benevolent Institutions of the City of Philadelphia and Their Legal Titles, 1859. SSH shelved with 917.481.

Social Service Directory of Philadelphia, 1919. SSH shelved with R917.481 C49.

Adoption Agencies, Orphanages and Maternity Homes: an Historical Directory. SSH 362.734 N596a.

The Genealogist's Address Book. SSH 929.1025 B444g. State and national genealogical resources.

Directory of Historical Organizations in the United States and Canada. SSH 906 Am31dh.

American Library Directory, updated annually. EPR 027.073 Am3.

Directory of Archival and Manuscript Repositories in the Delaware Valley. SSH 027.0749 D628o2.


Use the online catalog to make keyword searches on significant words in the name of the religion or church. For example, LUTHERAN DIRECTORY or CHRIST'S CHURCH.


The Philadelphia Colored Directory, 1910. SSH/Local Biography. Shelved with 326 W62w.

Who's Who in Greater Philadelphia in the Negro Community, 1968. SSH/Local Biography 326 W62w.

The Greater Philadelphia Cultural Resource Directory, updated annually and at SSH 974.811 G798c. Lists many ethnic organizations.

Guide to Information Resources in Ethnic Museum, Library, and Archival Collections in the United States. SSH 305.8002 B983g.

Use the online catalog to make keyword searches on significant words in the name of the ethnic group. For example, HISPANIC DIRECTORY.


Fraternal Organizations. SSH 366.0097 Sch52f.

A Dictionary of Secret and Other Societies. SSH 366 P928d.

Cyclopedia of Fraternities. SSH 366 St47c.

Use the online catalog to make keyword searches on significant words in the name of the organization. For example, MASONIC DIRECTORY or MASONS PENNSYLVANIA.


Baird's Manual of American College Fraternities. EPR 371.85 B16.

Use the online catalog to make keyword searches on significant words in the name of the school. For example, YALE DIRECTORY.


Philadelphia Street Name Changes. MAP 917.4811 P53mo.

History of Streets. MAP 917.4811 Q46h.

The Street Directory of the Principal Cities of the United April 30, 1908. MAP 383.91 U5Un3s. Indexed by street name. Lists street names and blocks of street numbers for major U.S. cities.


Ancestry's Red Book. SSH 929.1072 R245b.

Genealogist's Address Book. SSH 929.1025 B444g.

Directory of Historical Organizations in the United States and Canada. SSH 906 Am31dh.

Hereditary Register of the United States of America. SSH 369.1 H42r. Gives descriptions of hereditary and patriotic organizations.

Handbook of American Genealogy, 1932, 1934, 1937, 1943. SSH/STX P929 H19. An old periodical that lists genealogists and the surnames they were studying at the time of publication.

National Archives and Records Administration

Circa 1930 City Directories. Microfilm. For a complete list of the directories available, see

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS)

The LDS catalog lists the largest and most comprehensive collection of genealogical material in the world. Much of the material in the catalog is on microfilm and available for loan at a nominal cost. Numerous directories are available.


Ancestry. At This is a subscription service.

Cyndi's List. At

National phone listings. At

Board of Revision of Taxes - Philadelphia. Type in street number and name, get present owner of house. At