"A good actor can read the phone book and hold the audience's attention."
That old saying clearly insinuates it would take someone with great talent to make a listing of names, addresses and phone numbers interesting. Well, yes, I can't say I would sit still for such a recitation from even George Clooney, but I find the phone books some of the most fascinating books in our library.
Old phone directories offer a wealth of information for researchers. They tell not only the adults' names, but also their occupations and the names and often ages of their children. Until a decade or so ago, the phone directories also included a reverse look-up so you could easily look up your neighbors or previous owners of your home and find out a lot about them.
My favorite part of the phone books are the "yellow pages" with display ads for places long gone and listing of businesses by type. If I'm researching grocery stores, for example, the listings provide a good indication when Edina no longer was served by the corner market like Docken's and Tristler's and instead had larger supermarkets like Hove's (which became Lund's).
We have almost every year of the Edina phone directories, beginning with 1931 which was issued for Country Club District residents only. However, we have only a few books for the Morningside, an Edina neighborhood that was a separate village from 1920 to 1966. Morningside listings don't show up in most Edina books, even though the two belonged to the same school district. (Perhaps that's an unwritten story that the phone directories can tell you as well.)
Please donate your Morningside phone books to add to our collection. You're welcome to visit the museum and read the books yourself - but please not aloud.. unless George Clooney wants to give it a try.
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Jennifer Adam is the Executive Director of the Edina Historical Society. She welcomes your contributions. Comment on a post or send an email (see below). Traditional mail, of course, can also be sent to:
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