New Online: Library of Congress Adds 39 Early Volumes to Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book Digital Collection
This week we’re excited to announce that the Library of Congress has added 39 additional volumes to our Dun & Bradstreet Reference Book Digital Collection!
The latest batch of digitized volumes span from the first issue in 1859 to 1879, aside from a few months that are still in progress. They join the set of volumes from 1900 to 1924 that were made available online in January 2022. Unlike those from the 1900s that were digitized from microfilm, these earlier volumes were scanned and digitized from the original books, which are large, heavy, and fragile.
R.G. Dun & Co., later Dun & Bradstreet, produced the Reference Book credit directories and assigned credit ratings to businesses both large and small, in every town across the United States. Together, these volumes create a picture of economic development, both by estimating monetary strength of individual businesses in one location and by showing the rise and fall of industries, like the shift from horse dealers to automobile manufacturers. At the start of this title series, the United States had just admitted Oregon into the Union as the 33rd state in February 1859. However, the Reference Book covers all United States territories, in addition to the individual states, along with Canada, so we see pre-statehood places like Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming—even Hawaii—as they grow.
To help you decode and understand the ratings, we have created an index of keys to the rating systems, which links directly to digitized pages with the keys for each year. This also allows you to quickly compare financial thresholds from year to year and see changes in the keys. For example, in 1864, the year R.G. Dun & Co. resumed publishing, they redesigned their rating system.
The entire collection is searchable by keyword, and you can download each volume in PDF format. We are working on completing the digitization through 1899, so stay tuned.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.