“The new phone book’s here! The new phone book’s here!” Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin) in The Jerk (1979)
Back before the Internet, telephone directories were a great source of information. Not just the current book.
If one could go back a few years, sometimes a subject had his number previously published-even though now it was non-pub.
How do you go back a few years? The Public Library or the University Library. Many have telephone books adjacent to their city directories, going back many years.
Want to find an older address? Published number? Relatives with the same last name from years ago?
As a PI, I had a fetish for telephone directories. I began collecting Phoenix directories as they were published when I first became a PI. Then, later, when I worked with Dennis Kayer @ P**M** Security, he had a collection. He got out of the PI biz and gave me his collection. Probably 100 books. Cities and Towns State-wide. Some going back 8 years! Then, when I had my own license, I placed a standing order for all Arizona State telephone directories as published.
“The new phone book’s here!”
They began to be a bit of a space problem. Personal space versus utility.
Ma Bell solved the problem for me. She was broken up in the mid-80’s and the Baby-Bells were created. Each one with their own telephone directories, not always including other phone company customer information. It became more difficult to keep track of what directories I had, needed and what I used. After a ‘difference of opinion’ with a contract employer, I came home one day and eliminated all the directories from my home office. They didn’t have recycling then.
Looking back, it was more about the end of an era – the monolithic telephone company. And, with many of the old phone books now on line (!), space is saved.
And privacy is further eroded. That’s a cross I bear, libertarian privacy guy vs. investigator. Hopefully, the newer, resources are used only for good.