*The Phone Book*

The first American president to have a telephone on his desk was Herbert Hoover, who had one installed in 1929.  The White House did have a telephone well before most of the country, as Rutherford B. Hayes had had one installed in the telegraph room of the executive mansion in 1878.  It received little use at first, since so few other people had telephones at that time.  The very first telephone book for the city of Washington, D.C. lists this presidential telephone simply as "No.1."

That is from the interesting and new The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Uses But No One Reads, by Ammon Shea.

Here is a post on Chaim Weizmann's passport.

Comments

The Phone Book: The Curious History of the Book That Everyone Used to Use But No One Reads

That title had a misprint!

Many communities are phasing them out, and requiring you to call the phone company to have one sent to you. They still have to offer them for senior citizens and the like.

I use the phone book all the time,

as booster seats for my grandchildren.

There is some interesting things hidden here.

The phone book might be the first print publication that was really made obsolete by the internet. The encyclopedia and dictionary are close behind, but not quite there yet.

I also wonder if the print publication was misdesigned and that hastened its end. Its not that easy to use. The Yellow Pages might have been better replaced with a series of specialized business directories, and the White Pages should have covered much smaller geographic areas.

Not everyone uses the internet for everything.

The White House had a telephone in good time before most countries, Rutherford B. Hayes had one installed in the hall of the Telegraph's Executive Mansion in 1878. He received much use at first, since so few people had telephones at that time.

Why the hate for phone books? They remain extraordinarily useful, especially the Yellow Pages. Not everyone enjoys reliable and universal internet access, nor do online equivalents easily provide the same services as Yellow Pages. Not to mention those times when power or internet service is interrupted and an unexpected service needs to be procured.

Do you really believe rural water well drillers and service people, for example, are well represented in online listings and searches? There are millions who may need such services, and Yellow Pages and white pages remain invaluable.

I doubt there's a listing for wholesale human hair in my local yellow pages.

My local area (Vienna and Oakton VA) publishes a small business oriented book that contains mostly local businesses. I use that because it is faster than the internet and I know that the plumber, electrician, appliance repair, barber are local. The full Northern Virginia yellow pages is useless. The small local one is invaluable. As the poster above, said, he looked up the number to get his internet connection repaired. Eric Schumacher returns. For you young people he was the author of a book extolling small business and small communities.

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