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Guide to the Sacramento (Calif.) city directory collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Alternative Forms of Material Available
  • Processing Information
  • Biography / Administrative History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sacramento (Calif.) city directory collection
    Dates: 1850-2019
    Collection number: MS0031
    Collector: Sacramento (Calif.) Center for Sacramento History
    Collection Size: 180 volumes + 29 reels of microfilm
    Repository: Center for Sacramento History
    Sacramento, California 95811-0229
    Abstract: City directories of the city of Sacramento, California and surrounding areas beginning in 1850-2017. Entries are listed by individual or business name and include their residence or business address and telephone number for later years. In 1914 the city directories began providing a reverse directory by street name and address for individuals and businesses.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English


    Collection is open for research use.

    Publication Rights

    All requests to publish or quote from private collections held by the Center for Sacramento History (CSH) must be submitted in writing to csh@cityofsacramento.org. Permission for publication is given on behalf of CSH as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the patron. No permission is necessary to publish or quote from public records.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sacramento (Calif.) city directory collection, MS0031, Center for Sacramento History.

    Acquisition Information

    This collection was assembled through various donations and purchases (accession #s 1973/04/01-06, 1973/05/01-04 1977/44/01, 1980/54/01, 1981/116/03, 1982/04/5036, 1982/04/5041, 1982/04/5044, 1983/087, 1983/125/005, 1983/126/01, 1983/147/05, 1986/108/03, 1992/50/01, 1994/015/01, 1995/18/13, 1995/18/14, 1998/721, 2001/120/01, 2001/98/06, 2003/056, 2013/018).

    Alternative Forms of Material Available

    Sacramento city directories are available on microfilm for the years 1860-1936 in the Center for Sacramento History's reading room.

    Processing Information

    Finding aid created by Sean Heyliger, July 2019, and edited by Kim Hayden, December 2020.

    Biography / Administrative History

    Published on January 1, 1851, James Horace Culver's Directory for the Year 1851 was the first book to be published in Sacramento, California and the first city directory on the West Coast to list street address numbers. The directory listed the city's residents, churches, benevolent organizations, saloons, restaurants, boarding houses, city and county elected officials, schools, theaters, courts, leading taxpayers, steamboat captains, and a brief history of the city.
    The second book to be published in Sacramento was Samuel Colville's Sacramento directory for the year 1853-1854, which included Dr. John F. Morse's "History of Sacramento," a 35 page history of the city's development and politics of the previous ten years. Colville continued to publish the city directory until 1856 when it was subsequently edited by various editors and printed by H. S. Crocker Co. The Sacramento Directory Company (1890-1974) began publishing their directory of the city beginning in 1890 and would continue to published the directory throughout most of the 20th century until it was purchased and published by R. L. Polk and Sons after 1974.
    Phone books in this collection were first published in the 1960s. Books were published by Pacific Telephone from 1967-1983, Pacific Bell from 1984-2001, SBC from 2002-2005, and AT&T from 2006-.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection contains directories of the city of Sacramento, California, and surrounding areas from 1850 through the early 1990s, and phone books published from 1967 through the present. City directory entries are listed by individual or business name and include their residence or business address, occupation and business address, and often their spouse's name. The earliest directories include where a person came to Sacramento from, and later directories include telephone numbers. The 1889-1890 city directory included a key code (SCOTLANDER - S=1 C=2 0=3 T=4 L=5 A=6 N=7 D=8 E=9 R=0) next to each person's entry that included their real estate (R), income (I), and personal (P) income. Occasionally acreage (A) and mortgage (M) appeared as well. In 1914, the city directories began providing a reverse directory by street name and address for individuals and businesses. Beginning in the late 1950s, two separate directories were published for the city proper and the suburban areas; the collection also includes a Sacramento County rural directory from 1941. In the 1960s and 1970s, a separate Roseville/Citrus Heights directory was published.
    Phone books in the collection list name, address, and phone number for individuals and businesses. From 1967 to 1983, one phone book was published each year that included listings for individuals on white pages and businesses on yellow pages. Beginning in 1983, two phone books were published each year: one listing individuals (called "the white pages") and one listing businesses (called "the yellow pages"). Phone books cover the Sacramento metropolitan area. One phone book from 1984 is specific to the Delta, and two from the 1990s and 2000s include a larger portion of Northern California beyond the Sacramento area.


    The collection is arranged into 2 series:
    • Series 1. City directories, 1850-1990
    • Series 2. Phone books, 1967-2019

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Sacramento (Calif.)--Directories.
    Sacramento (Calif.)--History.