Digital Directories: 19th-Century New York

In the century before the first telephone books appeared, printers and booksellers in American cities published local annual directories showing where people lived and worked, street by street. These directories, preserved in libraries and archives, hold a wealth of information for historians, genealogists, and other researchers. 

Many directories are now available online, but they can be difficult to find, and some are locked in expensive proprietary databases. As an aid to researchers, particularly those with limited institutional resources, this project lists publicly accessible directories for New York City between 1786 and 1876. All of these directories are hosted by other websites.

This listing, though extensive, is far from complete. If you know of an open-access source for any missing directory, please use the contact form to have it added.

General Directories for Manhattan

Suggested Resources

Researchers using these directories may find it very helpful to consult Don Rogerson's guide to Manhattan Street Names Past and Present, which tracks changes in the names (and locations) of Manhattan streets.

For scholarly interpretations of the changing New York streetscape as a lived-in space, see Catherine H. Voorsanger's and John K. Howat's lavish collection Art and the Empire City New York, 1825–1861; David M. Scobey's Empire City: The Making and Meaning of the New York City Landscape; David Henkin's City Reading: Written Words and Public Spaces in Antebellum New York; Elizabeth Blackmar's Manhattan for Rent, 1785-1850; and Blackmar's and Roy Rosenzweig's The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. For useful related studies that focus on other cities, see Dell Upton's Another City Urban Life and Urban Spaces in the New American Republic; and Bernard L. Herman's Town House: Architecture and Material Life in the Early American City, 1780-1830.