True reverse address lookup books

Many years ago I worked for a shipping company that had these books which contained addresses in sequence. You could look at a street address and get a name and phone number from it. The books were published by a company, and I can’t remember the name of it. If someone named it I would probably recognize it.

My question is, where would this publishing company have gotten such information? As I remember it, it was pretty comprehensive and accurate. Also, does anyone know where you can get this kind of book nowadays? Do they still publish them?

There are any number of databases that could give you that information. But the easiest way to do it would be to simply deconstruct an electronic telephone diretcory. Most places have the phone books available on CD these days. Anyone with a little skill could extract the basic database from the CD. Then it’s just basic database manipulation to allow a search on address, phone number etc. You have the entire phone book(s) but are now able to serach on any field, not just name.

I’m not sure at the legality of selling this using a direct decryptiona dn extraction of the database. However their would be numerous legal loopholes that would allow someone to sell a “front end” or similar for the electronic phone book that accomplished excatly the same thing. So long as the package still required a legally purchased copy of the phone book no laws would be clearly broken.

The R. L. Polk City Directories were probably what the company used.

I didn’t see anything about how they collect their data, but many years ago when te salesguy tried to sell one to me, he said they used phone directory information (which anyone can buy) and did aditional surveys and such to add to it.

Such information is available from any county property tax base, provided you have access to it.

How relevant are these books today? I’d guess they were primarily used by debt collectors, telemarketers, and political pollsters. I’d think the expansion of cell phones would have greated reduced the usefulness of these books.

Note that phone books were ruled not copyrightable in the US many years ago as they were just lists of data with no “creative” aspect to protect. So anyone could take a phone book and enter the data into a computer to produce a reverse phone book.

Now with phone books available on CD, it’s trivial. (Was phone book data available on tape in “the old days”?)

BTW: There was a US law recently passed extending copyright protection to databases, so things could be changing now.

I think it was the Hanes Directory. I worked briefly a s atelemarketer, and we used photocopied pages from the Hanes Directory, so we could mark them up. It was quite expensive, apparently.

Another common trade name for these directories was “Kris-Kross” although I’m not 100% sure of the spelling. It wasn’t normal dictionary spelling, but my spelling looks too weird.

According to the web site, the street-guide section was first added in 1916, which would imply that computers were not a factor in creating the directory. One can get a lot of info from municpal or county assessors and tax information; however, that will not give one the names of who actually lives there. For example, it is not infrequent for us to get a request for whether a person lives in the township, but we cannot answer that question for sure because a resident may not own property, and a property owner may not reside in the township.

For government use, they’re quite relevant. There are times when it would be helpful to be able to contact a person by telephone, for example, when all one has is a parcel on a tax map. When I was with the city engineering department of the town next door, there were lots of occassions when I went to the Polk directory to get the relevant information. (Strangely enough, I can’t recall why I needed it.) It also occurs that I may need to see what is specifically where, relative to a particular parcel, and a Polk directory would be quite handy. I can look at the township’s tax map to ensure I have the location, I can check the assessor’s database for ownership, but often the owner is not the business or resident and it can be difficult to connect the addresses with what’s actually there. Yet another instance of need arises from the fact that parcels, at least in this area, only have one address; thus, if there is a row of multifamily housing, we may have only one address listed on a parcel where there are several mailing addresses.

That’s just a quick sampling, but I think it helps show that a Polk directory is still relevant today.

Hanes! That was it!

So where can one get one of these electronic databases which are as accurate as one of the old Hanes books? I’m not a telemarketer, btw, and have no hidden agenda. Actually I’m not so sure a simple phone list would give all addresses in sequence like those old Hanes books did.


Your public library probably has the Hanes directories. Ours, however, will not give out information from them over the phone (even though you can get most of it online), presumably because we don’t like to do collection services’ work for them.

At Pacific Bell, we used to have access to a reverse directory. The only time I had a use for it was when a friend died. His family was trying to get his affairs in order, and an ex-girlfriend refused to return a car he had loaned her. All they had was her phone number, and even though it was strictly against company policy, I looked up her street address and gave it to them so that they could re-possess the vehicle.

It is the Haines Criss+Cross Directory if you want the correct spelling.

Or even better a link

My library used to have them for the local area. Officially, they were leased, not bought, but we never had to give them back. And officially you weren’t supposed to be able to make copies of pages, but people did. Of course, a lot of people just tore out pages.

If you call your average public library for them to read something out of one of these directories on the phone, the answer will almost be no. Usually when I said no, I would get a “f— you” in return about 90% of the time.

Skip tracers don’t get hired because they’re “people persons”.