Trade directories

Trade directories were issued from the mid 18th century until around 1945. Sometimes described as the ‘Yellow Pages’ of their day, they were commercial ventures which reflected the business and interests of their compilers. We cover dates between 1774 to 1974.

Contact us on to find out more, book in advance or order archival materials.

Location of records

A comprehensive collection is available at the Sheffield Local Studies Library in the Central Library, whilst a smaller selection is available at Sheffield Archives at Shoreham Street.

Ordering documents

In most cases, trade directories can be made available to you within a matter of minutes. A few of the early directories (pre-1830s) may be subject to restricted access.


We can normally supply copies (either prints from microfiche or photographic prints) for private study purposes, subject to the usual copyright regulations.

Please contact us for further information.

Background information

Directories are arranged in three ways:

  • as an alphabetical listing of names (giving address and occupation).
  • street by street (giving names of occupiers of the properties).
  • by listing trades (similar to the modern Yellow Pages).

The first Sheffield Directory appears in 1774 listing specialised trades (such as Cutlers, Silversmiths etc.) the second appears in 1787 listing the professional classes, local gentry, tradespeople and manufacturers.

By the 1820s the directories of Baines included geographical and historical information. White's Directories in the 1830s were compiled following door to door canvassing whilst Kelly's Post Office directories are so called because information was collected on slips delivered by postmen.

The directories are a very useful source for the family historian, the alphabetical listing sorts names in an easy to read format. The street by street index can be useful to gain access to census returns.

Telephone directories

A comprehensive collection from 1960 onwards including alphabetical, classified and Yellow Pages is available at Sheffield Local Studies Library. There are a few telephone directories from before 1960.


Directories are printed books. Most are available on the library/search room shelves.

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