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Directories (People) at the Boston Public Library: Telephone Directories

Telephone Directories have the advantage of covering beyond town and city boundaries. In the early years, however, much of the population did not have telephones. The Yellow Pages directories are essential for business research. Contact us here for availability or to check a specific place and year.

Phonebooks - current

Boston Area Telephone Directories 2001 to 2020

Boston area telephone directories for 2001 to 2020 are held in paper format and can be requested for historical research at the Research Services Department in the Washington Room.

US Phonefiche, 1976 - 2005

From 1976 through 2005 the Bell & Howell Company (later University Microfilm International (UMI), and now Proquest) published telephone books from across the country on microfiche. The Boston Public Library purchased a broad selection of white & yellow pages. The directories are primarily from the Bell System. Guides are available for some years that indicate in which directory a town was covered, and also the towns covered by a specific directory. 

  • 1990-2003: sometimes include London, Montreal & Toronto
  • 1981-2005: includes midsize cities 
  • 1976-1980: covers only the select major metropolitan areas below (by state): 
    • Los Angeles, CA
    • Oakland, CA
    • San Francisco, CA
    • District of Columbia
    • Maryland Suburban-D.C. Area
    • Northern VA and D.C. Area
    • Chicago, IL
    • Boston MA
    • Detroit MI
    • St Louis, MO
    • Babylon-Bay Shore,NY
    • Bronx, NY
    • Brooklyn, NY
    • Huntington-Smithtown, NY
    • Manhattan, NY
    • Queens, NY
    • Riverhead-Patchoque, NY
    • Staten Island, NY
    • Suffolk, NY
    • Allentown-Bethlehem, PA (1980 only)
    • Philadelphia, PA

Boston Area Telephone & Address Directories on Microfilm (1884-2001)

Boston Telephone Directory, 1886-1901

New England Telephone and Telegraph Co., Official List of Subscribers of the Boston Division, also known as: Official Directory Long Distance Telephone​, New England Telephone and Telegraph Company 1886-1901

Boston Telephone Almanac & Directory Images

New England telephone history

Other telephone related publications

Massachusetts Telephone Books online

Boston Telephone Exchanges - 1950

At one time instead of dialing entire telephone numbers you dialed the first two letters of the exchange, followed by 5 numbers. For example, KEnmore 6-5400 (the Boston Public Library), or PEnnslvania 6-5000 (the Glenn Miller jazz classic.). This is why telephones originally had letters.