[Duluth, Mn.]: 1899. ,pp. including illustrations. Original printed wrappers, backed with blue cloth. Wrappers heavily chipped. Occasional contemporary pencil annotations and ink stamp addition of an additional telephone line. Some leaves with marginal tears, but quite clean internally. Good plus. Item #WRCAM57417
A pair of rare and early telephone directories for Duluth, Minnesota and Douglas County, Wisconsin, issued together by the earliest telephone company in the region. The Duluth Telephone Company was started in 1881. Its founder, Walter Van Brunt, was an insurance writer for C.H. Graves & Co. whose tasks included walking back and forth ten blocks each way to collect receipts, multiple times per day. After seeing Alexander Graham Bell's demonstration of the telephone at the 1876 Centennial Exposition, Van Brunt was inspired to save himself some legwork by installing a phone in each location. After instituting a few phone lines and receiving numerous requests from acquaintances for more, he saw the money to be made and incorporated the Duluth Telephone Company along with C.H. Graves and H.C. Kendall. They issued their first directory the next year with a total of thirty subscribers, and by 1899 had expanded to over 750.
Both directories here are for July 1899. The Duluth directory begins with several pages of telephone instructions and etiquette, including repeated requests that subscribers not get upset or take out their frustrations on telephone operators. A header which reads "Stand Close - Talk Directly into Telephone" also runs throughout the entire directory. The first section also provides instructions for reporting outages, fire alarms, and blank forms for changing phone number, location, or canceling service. The directory itself is arranged alphabetically and largely includes businesses such as doctors, grocers, mining companies, and saloons - although the printed advertisements make it clear that the company was working to expand their residential audience. There is also a contemporary ink stamp in the "H" section which adds an additional telephone line not originally printed. Bound dos-a-dos (almost certainly issued this way) is a smaller directory of Superior, across the border in Wisconsin, with information and telephone numbers in similar categories.
A rare glimpse of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin at the turn of the 20th century. OCLC records no copies of these directories, except perhaps at a minimally catalogued collection at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.