In general city directories are concerned with the entire population of an area. Blue Books and Social Registers concentrate on the middle and upper classes of their communities so are exclusive rather than inclusive. These kinds of directories mostly aid in finding people, and usually do not give much, if any, biographical information. At most, a few details like the clubs of which they are members may be given in some instances.
The Boston Blue Book: Private Address and Carriage Directory and Ladies’ Visiting and Shopping Guide, for Boston, was a selective residential directory including “only certain better class districts.” Permanent residents of hotels were also shown, and members of the “better” clubs were indicated.
The earliest Social Register for Boston in the BPL's Research Services Dept. dates from 1890. Some years have been digitized by the HathiTrust. HathiTrust has also digitized the Registers for other cities. Search by the phrase "social register" to find others. Starting in 1977, the various social registers were combined into one national directory called the Social Register.
In many cases more years of the social registers listed above on line can be found in our paper holdings, which have not yet been digitized. There are additional areas such as the Cape, Malden, Providence, South Shore, Suburban Boston, Wellesley and Winchester available as well. Search our catalog with the subject Social Registers or with title Blue Book.
Blue Book of Brookline 1885 Advertisement
Who's Who Along the North Shore 1914 Advertisement
Advertisement in 1941 Davis' Blue Book of Brookline, Wellesley and Weston Massachusetts