About Polk City Directories

Our story begins in 1870 when we were family-owned by Ralph Lane (R.L.) Polk. Born in Bellefontaine, Ohio, R.L. Polk saw a need for a centralized source of community information. He later moved two-and-a-half hours northeast to Detroit, Michigan.

That’s where R.L. Polk employed sales associates as well as enumerators, people who record census data. He had the enumerators knock on doors to collect the data needed to compile the books, known today as Polk City Directories. R.L. Polk directed the sales associates to go door to door to local businesses to sell copies of the directories as well as advertising space inside them.

Reviewing a newly printed city directory, shown from the left: William H. Beatty, R.L. Polk and Walter J. Gardner.

R.L. Polk used this paper cutter in his first office for trimming the pages of the directories.

Today, you won’t find Polk City Directories knocking on the doors of businesses, but we still provide the most up-to-date consumer and business information.

In addition to consumer and business data, Polk City Directories offers automobile and vehicle data. This information—including conquest leads, boat, and recreational vehicles—is valuable to thousands of dealerships and auto industry companies across the United States.

Our goal is to continually provide a quick and easy experience for our customers to get the information they need. This was our goal over 100 years ago under the ownership of R.L. Polk. And it’s still our goal now as Polk City Directories.