1957 Hattiesburg Telephone Directory
Before cell phones and the Internet, telephone directories were the books most likely to be found in every household. Not only could you look up the phone number and address of the nice lady who sits next to you at church, but it was the go-to place to find someone to fix your car or plumbing. Even though telephone directories are still being published, they are decreasing in size and popularity with many households going to cell phones only.
The telephone directory from 1957 contains all of the elements normally encountered in a phone book. There is the alphabetical list of all telephone customers with their addresses and phone numbers. In the rear of the volume, there is the "Classified Telephone Directory," or yellow pages, with a list of all services alphabetically.
This volume differs slightly from current issues. In 1957, the numbers in Hattiesburg had the word Juniper before the number. Juniper was the telephone exchange for Hattiesburg. Telephone exchange names were assigned by the telephone company to distinguish certain areas. To call the number, you dialed the first two numbers of the word (JU for Hattiesburg) and then the number (3-0123). Directions for using a dial telephone are also found in the front of the book. It even tells you how to turn the dial!!
Another feature of telephone service in the 50s was the party line. This is where several households share the same phone number. This can be problematic because if one household is on the phone, the other household must wait until the call is completed. The telephone directory describes how party lines operate and how to dial using the service.
In the yellow pages, there are also helpful hints on telephone etiquette. One of these states,
“Hang up gently – Thoughtless slamming of the receiver may appear discourteous to the person with whom you have been talking. You don’t mean it, of course, but it may leave the wrong impression.” (page 19)
Special Collections in McCain Library & Archives collects telephone directories for Mississippi with editions as early as 1933. These are available to researchers with an index of directories.
For more information about this directory and others, contact Jennifer Brannock at Jennifer.Brannock@usm.edu or 601.266.4347. To see more Items of the Month, click here.
Text by Jennifer Brannock, Curator of Rare Books & Mississippiana