BHS library collections include several types of city directories, spanning from 1822 to 1913, with one 1796 directory and one bound directory from 1933. A bulk of the directories are devoted to the city and borough of Brooklynn; there are a handful for Manhattan, Queens, Long Island, and Newark, New Jersey.
City Directories — Residential. Organized alphabetically by last name, similar to a phone book, these directories list the name and address of an individual, often a resident’s occupation and work address, and sometimes race.
Business Directories. Most are organized alphabetically by trade, then alphabetically by last name, and list business address. Finding the relevant trade listing can sometimes be tricky. For example, when searching the address of an ancestor’s drinking establishment, no trade listing might be found under “Bars,” “Public Houses,” “Taverns,” “Liquors,” “Saloons,” or any other alternative term for a business premises where alcohol is served. But the address may be found under the antiquated “Wine and Liquors.”
By Address—Elite Directories (1873–1913). These directories, issued by the Elite Publishing Company, are organized by address instead of by last name. By providing information on former residents, these are often helpful when tracking the social history of a particular building, and are often comprehensively cross-referenced with the “by name” directories.
Blue Books (1904–1962). As the name suggests, these directories are a collection of society listings. They have a “by address” search in the back of the book, which is helpful when trying to discover who might have lived at a particular address.