The Newberry’s collection of city directories is not well-described in our online catalog. For a more comprehensive description of our collection of city directories, please consult this guide (available as a pdf file) which is organized geographically, and then chronologically within each location. In addition to city and county directories, the guide describes our holdings of fraternal, professional, society, and telephone directories.
The Newberry’s strong collection ranges in date from the late 18th-century through the middle of the 20th-century, though most directories in the collection were published between 1870 and 1930. Our holdings are strongest in U.S. directories (for large cities, small towns, and rural areas) but we also hold directories from Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia.
Directories are available in multiple formats. In addition to the print resources described in the City Directory Guide, the Newberry has a complete run of Chicago city directories, which range in date from 1839 to 1928/29, available on microfilm (please note that in some years no directory was published; see this publication history of Chicago directories for additional information). U.S. Directories published prior to 1800 are available on microcards and directories published prior to 1860 in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, and Ohio are available on microfiche. Within the Newberry building, researchers can also access city directories online through the Newberry’s subscriptions to Ancestry.com and Fold3.
The Newberry has digitized some Chicago directories, and these are available freely online through our Chicago Ancestors website.