Printing Press

Data Sources

Printers Database

Nearly all the information has been collected from city and regional directories.
  • Availability of city directories is sometimes limited. For example, New Haven's city directories did not start until 1840; since there were clearly labels printed in the city prior to that date, other sources must be used.
  • Spelling of names in the directories is sometimes inconsistent: Caspar vs. Casper, Hurlbut vs. Hurlburt, etc. Sometimes there is only a first initial, sometimes a name (a full name, when known, has been used in this database in many cases).
  • In this database, abbreviated first names have been converted to full names: Jas to James, Wm to William, etc.
Data collection is ongoing - additional printers and addresses will be added to the database as available.
These PDF Reports can be viewed or printed:

Labels Database

The sources of the labels that were transferred to an Excel workbook in 2013 have apparently been lost, as well as when the data was collected.
  • Errors in the Labels workbook were observed, mostly (probably) typographical; where obviously erroneous, the data was corrected.
Label information can be added by users of this website. The more labels, the more useful!

How is data recorded?


In general, city directories listed the business/work address first followed by an 'h' to indicate the following was the home address. Where there is only one address, it is [almost certainly] the home address but it could additionally be the business/work address (we don't know whether the individual worked and lived at the same address or whether the individual was a 'journey man' working for someone else). When there is only one address, it is recorded in the home address unless the directory specifies that it is an office location.

Changes to Canadian Colonies/Provinces: Initially, there were the British colonies of Lower Canada (LC) and Upper Canada (UC). In 1841, these two colonies were merged into the Province of Canada with two parts: Canada East (CE) and Canada West (CW). Upon Confederation in 1867, the Canadian provinces of Quebec (QC, formerly LC and CE) and Ontario (ON, formerly UC and CW) were formed.

Changes to U.S. States: The state of West Virgina was admitted to the U.S. in 1863 after breaking away from Virginia in 1861; addresses for printers & clockmakers prior to that date are shown as 'VA', not 'WV'. Maine was part of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts until it split off in 1820.


Printer names have sometimes been changed from that listed in the City Directories, e.g. 'Canfield, P.B.' to 'Canfield, Penfield B.', to make searching more useful.
Printer names extracted from labels should be exactly as printed on the label.


In most city directories, a business owner's or partner's occupation is shown as the business name surrounded by parenthesis. New York City directories did not use this convention, so it is generally only possible to identify the partners by comparing addresses. Directories for the City of Buffalo generally listed the occupation as the business that the individual worked for (or was a partner in).


The sentiment expressed in the quote below resonates intensely with the databases' administrator.

It is almost impossible for a work so voluminous, forwarded in so much haste and bustle as the N.Y. Directory, should be without errors. The Editor, therefore, begs leave to solicit those whose addresses are wrong (if, unfortunately, any should be) to send their cards to the houses where they are stated to reside - the politeness of the occupants will no doubt direct its being so placed that it may be seen by all who apply. He also solicits immediate information of every error, which shall be corrected in a supplement, to be published in a few days, and delivered gratis.

Many of the supposed errors (of omission) in the Directory originate in the inquirer not knowing accurately how the names sought after are spelled. But if he be confident that his spelling is correct, then let him recollect that much of the information is given by servants, or illiterate persons, which will account for any variation of the spelling; but by searching according as he thinks it may have been varied, he will probably find it.

Longworth's American Almanac, N.Y. Register & City Directory for 1802

Please notify the administrator of any needed corrections.


Who ever thought that it made sense to name N.Y. counties 'Oswego', 'Otsego' and the town 'Owego'? How do you know when there's a typo???

The New York City Public Library has a wonderful, high-quality collection of NYC city directories - every year is online. Unfortunately, they are not searchable.

'Printer' is just one letter different than 'Painter' - this causes many false positives when searching city directories especially when some old printed text is already almost illegible. Observation: there are more painters than printers.