City Directories

The Brooklyn Historical Society’s collection of city directories includes copies of both New York City and Brooklyn directories, available to researchers on microfilm and/or microfiche, with a very small portion of the collection available in print.  The New York City directories include information pertaining to the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx, spanning the years 1786-1934, and are largely available only on microfilm (76 reels).  The collection does include physical copies of New York City directories for the years 1915-1917 and 1925.

Brooklyn city directories are available on 28 microfilm reels for the period 1847-1913, or on microfiche for the period 1822-1861.  The collection also includes one physical copy of a Brooklyn city directory covering the years 1933-1934, as well as four Brooklyn classified telephone directories spanning the years 1932-1938.  Finally, the collection also includes separate directories for the city of Williamsburgh prior to its annexation as a part of the City of Brooklyn, which are available on microfiche and cover the years 1847-1854.

The collection of directories serves as a valuable resource of information pertaining to residential, municipal, and commercial life in both New York City and Brooklyn during from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries.  Directories are quite extensive and regularly include features such as registers of public departments and institutions, street and avenue directories, purchaser’s guides, general directories (including occupations and businesses of local residents), and advertising indexes, while also occasionally featuring illustrated city plans, maps of transit lines, and information pertaining to public parks, ward boundaries, freight depots, locations of piers, cabs and taxicabs, and borough histories.

Brooklyn Public Library has digitized 31 years of Brooklyn city and business directories (1856 – 1908). You can find them on BPL’s website here.