In genealogy today, one of my favorite resources is the city directory. Before there were telephones, these venerable publications gave loads of data about nearly every working member of a family. Then came the phone book and later the reverse phone book (if you know the phone number, you can look up who owned it and their address – if they were listed). Then their were CD phone books, and now the Internet. The paper version may well disappear soon. The electronic versions do not currently capture historical data.
I’ve had a couple of projects this year involving old phone books and reverse directories – and guess what? They are hard, or impossible, to locate. And, sometimes when you do locate them, you can’t read them (e.g. some microfiche images).
I’m going to encourage my local genealogy society to start collecting print phone books, and even to look for old ones for our area. I encourage you to do the same. Otherwise, when our kids and grand-kids go to do research, there may not be anything to help them fill the gap. I’m also going to investigate and encourage publishers to monetize their old books (if they still have them) by digitizing.