Chicago - the Missing City Directories

Polk's Chicago Directory 1923
Polk's Chicago Directory 1923

“Where are the rest of the city directories?” is a question heard frequently at the reference desk. Although the Newberry has a complete collection of Chicago City Directories, there are no directories in the microfilm drawer (or online) for 1918-1922 or from 1924-1928.

The absence of these directories is explained in the introduction to Polk’s Chicago Directory for 1923. This directory was “The first chicago City Directory published by R. L. Polk and Company. It is the 71st edition of the directory and the first issued since 1917.” A headline in the June 10, 1923 Chicago Tribune (p.3) read “City Population Is 2,935,887 By New Directory: Book, First Out Since 1917, Shows Growth.”

From 1887 until 1917, the directory had been published under the management of Reuben H. Donnelley. Following the publication of the 1917 edition, Donnelley found it necessary to use the directory staff in other capacities. Staffing issues along with other issues arising from World War I caused Donnelly to cease publication of the directory. He ultimately induced R.L. Polk & Company to resume the annual publication. Polk had been publishing directories in other locals since 1871.

Another gap followed the publication of the 1923 directory and the next directory was not issued until 1928. A December 2, 1928 Chicago Tribune article announced the “..first city directory issued in five years,” again by R.L. Polk & Co. This was a two volume publication, with the first being “all that a good directory should be, offering cursory information as names, addresses and occupations, together with a classified business directory.”

The second volume was alphabetically arranged by street (now refered to as a “criss-cross” directory) and provided the names of householders or businesses at each address. It also provides details as to home ownership, wife’s name and business connections. This second volume is available on the Chicago History Museum’s website.

Although Polk directories for other cities continue to be published, this was to be the last of the Chicago city directories. Following 1928/29, telephone books (which started in 1878) are the primary alternative available to researchers. The Newberry City Directory Guide lists the library’s holdings for both city directories and telephone books.
 
Additional criss-cross directories were also published. The Newberry holds the 1953 and 1955 editions. The Chicago History Museum holds editions from 1928, 1950, 1952, 1953 and 1978 to the present.

Comments

I am looking for the Palladium Ballroom. A distinguished person said that he visited it in1953,in Chicago. Could you see if it is listed in the 1953 Yellow Pages. Thank You.
The Palladium Ballroom was located at 4806 N. Broadway. The building was the original home of the famous Green Mill Gardens and Green Mill Ballroom. The Green Mill Jazz Club is still located in the building. You can read more about the history of this corner at: http://www.greenmilljazz.com/history.html We welcome questions like yours and encourage people to submit their queries using the form available at: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian.
Tuesday..07 August 2012..Amherst, New York Would you be able to tell me if there is a Lowell Ward and a Grace Ward listed in the 1950 Chicago City Directory ? Thank you for your help.
@ LaVida - by 1950, the Chicago city directories were no longer being published. I did check the 1950 Chicago telephone directory and sent you a private email response.
Could you please check the 1950 phone book for a Barioca (spelling?)Lounge in Chicago? Thankyou!
Reply to Reba sent privately.
I am trying to find the location/address for a Tony Morleys Tavern in the 35th through 43rd and Ashland/Halsted area during the 1950's Would appreciate any help. Mike Kirwan
@Mike - The June 1952 Chicago Telephone Book has a listing for Morley, Anthony Tavern, 745 W. 47th St.
Why is the earliest online Chicago Directory 1866? Are earlier years available?
@ Daryl - The Newberry has a small number of the Chicago directories available on the Tools page of ChicagoAncestors.org, As earlier directories would be useful to fewer researchers, limited funds were used to digitize later directories. Ancestry.com now has digital versions of the 1844 and 1861-1866. A much larger number of early directories is available at Fold3.com. Both databases are subscription based. A full list of the Newberry's holdings is available at: http://www.newberry.org/city-directories. Also, you can contact the Newberry for look-ups by using the form at: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian
My dad met my mom in the late 1940's at a drugstore called Quartteti, do you have an address or is this the correct spelling.
@ Richard - the 1940 Chicago telephone directory has a listing for Leonard Quartetti, drugs, 7151 W. Grand.
The address is 1105 N. Pulaski (formerly Crawford) Chicago IL I am looking for the name of the tavern for this building. Years 947 - 1950 Possibly owner's name Walter Graczyk
@ Sharon - The 1953 reverse directory is the closest one we have to the 1947-50 time frame for researching by address. In that directory, at 1105 N. Pulaski, there is a home listing for Walter Graczyk and a business listing for W Graczyk.
For specific directory lookup requests, please use our web form: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian. This will expedite your request. Thanks!
Trying to locate the former rsidents of a 'veterans village' that existed in NW Chicago in the late 40s/early 50s as well as the immediate area just south of where the village existed. This would be the 4000 - 4300 blocks of Pioneer, Pittsburgh, Plainfield & Pontiac, as well as the 7800-7900 blocks of Pensacola, Cullom, Robinson, Hutchinson and Berteau. Our village was actually Norwood Park Township but the immediate area to the south was Chicago. Here's the link to our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/189837317714450/381016035263243#!/groups/189837317714450/
Hello: I'm trying to find the name of a polish bakery around 1942 that was at 5513 Belmont. The owners last name was Slupski. Also if there are any resourses for a possible picture of storefront. Thanks.
A private response was sent to Mary. For specific directory lookup requests, please use our web form: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian. This will expedite your request.
hi, lookin for a listing of lumber yards in Chicago, il. as far back in time as u can go names of company & address,s many thannxx
@ Warren - There are Chicago City Directories for various years available online at: http://www.chicagoancestors.org/#tab-tools. Look under "lumber" in the business sections. You may also be interested in the chapter on lumber in the book: "Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West" by William Cronin (New York: W.W. Norton, 1991. ) Newberry call number: Chicago Browsing F548.4 .C85 1992
Hello Librarian, My ultimate goal is death date of Charles L. Meyers who haas for over 50 years, a grocery store with living quarters above store, at 1226 N. Clark St. He started in 1890 and was celebrating Golden Jubilee in 15 April 1940, and was the oldest Grocer in April 1947. Chicago found the Golden Jubilee article from the Tribune and I had the one from 1947. I need name of grocery store and listings in directories from April 1947 to 1955. Can you help? Thanks, Dee
A private response was sent to Dee. For specific directory lookup requests, please use our web form: http://www.newberry.org/contact-librarian. This will expedite your request.
Is it possible to come to the library to browse the 1955 Polk directory?
Absolutely! Check out the Visit the Newberry section of our website for information. http://www.newberry.org/visit Be sure to contact us if you have any specific questions: http://www.newberry.org/contact-a-librarian
Looking for folks who lived in a veteran's village in NW Chicago in late 40s /early 50s. Need names so I can find them and/or descendants. All lived in 4200&4300 blocks of Pittsburgh, Plainfield, & Pontiac as well as the 7700-7900 blocks of Pensacola, Cullom, Robinson & Hutchinson
@Bruce - You may want to consult the criss-cross directories referenced in the post. These are arranged by street name and then by address.
I am searching for a listing for Evelyn H Jenkins ( the widow of John H Jenkins) in the 1940 chicago city directory. She also went by Emma Jenkins. She signed in as a guest at my grandfather's funeral in 1938 and listed her address as chicago, Illinois.
@K - The city directories had ceased publication by 1940. The 1940 Chicago telephone directory did not have a listing for an Evelyn, Emma or E.H. Jenkins.
Regarding the 1953 & 1955 criss-cross directories. The area of our veteran's village, although it had a Chicago address, was considered part of Norwood Township. Was wondering if someone could check and see if the directories you have contain the 4200 & 4300 blocks of Pittsburgh, Plainfield & Pontiac. Also the 7800 & 7900 blocks of Hutchinson, Robinson, Cullom & Pensacola?
@Bruce - In both the 1953 and 1955 directories the listings for Pittsburgh, Plainfield & Pontiac ended with the 4100 block. Those for Hutchinson ended with the 5500 block, Cullom with 5900 and Pensacola with 5700. The only Robinson St. was on the south side.
Do you have crisscross directories for the streets mentioned? Interested in early 50s. We had a Chicago address but were actually in Norwood Park Township. Have been told we need a Chicago & NW Suburbs directory tho

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