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The 1889 Cincinnati Bell Telephone Book


 Transcribed by Connie Adams-Pitt

This is a transcription of the November 1889 telephone book issued by the Bell Telephone Exchange and City and Suburban Telegraph Association.  The original included telephone numbers ranging from two to five numbers but it was decided that the numbers should not be transcribed since they provided no useful information.  Most of the information is for Cincinnati but the reader will find listings for areas in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. (In addition, when updating the site in 2015, we corrected some obviously transposed letters in words describing occupations. It is unknown if these were incorrect spellings in the original directory, or the transcription; but this was done strictly for searching purposes on this site. No names or addresses were changed.)

Connie Adams-Pitt has given permission for the Campbell County Historical Society to display the following photos of her Grandfather's half-brother George Adams who worked for the phone company about 1900.  She retains the copyright on the photos and they may not be sold, copied or copy written into any publication.

Click on the individual photos to open the larger image in a new window.


George working on the phone lines 45 feet above ground.

George and his boss cleaning crank telephones.

Be sure to read the instructions on how to use the telephone at the bottom of this page.

Click on the button below for the page you need to see. (As of 2/5/15 only pages A-P have been moved to this new section. As they are finished, all the links will be updated.) The April & June 1890 updated (supplemental) directories, along with the location of public pay stations will be included.



The phone book has instructions to aid people in using the telephone:

  The number of each subscriber's line and ring is placed opposite his name in the alphabetic list of the directory.

  To Call The Exchange - Give one short ring and then at once place the Telephone to your ear.

  The operator will immediately answer you through the Telephone.

  Give the Number and Ring of the person you wish to speak with, and don't hang the Telephone up, but continue listening.

  The party called with either speak to you or the operator will inform you that he is "busy" talking to some one else, or will not answer.

  When done talking hang up the Telephone and give one short ring.

  The Exchange will call you by ringing your number on the bell. Don't ring back but simply place the Telephone to your ear and answer through the Microphone.

  Answer your bell promptly.

  When using the Telephone, be sure to give your name when commencing conversation, and require your correspondent to do the  same; this will prevent misunderstandings.    

  The Telephone, when not in use, must always hang on the hook provided for it; otherwise the bell will cut out, and no call can be heard.

  In using the Microphone, for ordinary tones, place the mouth about four inches away from the opening, approaching nearer for lower tones. Talking loudly near the instrument should be avoided.

  The use of profane, obscene, or improper language over the lines is strictly forbidden. Subscribers will be held responsible for the enforcement of this rule, and if such language is persistently indulged in, the Telephone will be promptly removed.

  If your Telephone doesn't work right, report it to the Superintendent of Exchanges, line 1053. If it is not remedited in reasonable time, please report by letter or in person to the General Manager.

   Subscribers who wish a change in the location of their instruments will be charged therefor only the actual cost of the change.

 W. U. Telegrams By Telephone.

  By arrangement with the Western Union Telegraph Company, subscribers to our exchange may receive or forward telegrams by telephone free of extra charge. Parties who desire to avail themselves of this privilege can make arrangements by calling the office oth that Company.


  Every subscriber should preserve a memorandum of each use ot Toll Lines, in order to verify the account rendered by the Company when presented for payment. Whenever, from poor service, or any other cause, a subscriper thinks that no charge should be made, the fact must be at once reported to the General Manager's office. All connections will be charged, and no rebate allowed unless the claim is made with-in 24 hours. 

       Subscribers using TOLL LINES will be called up every morning and requested to verify the Company's charges for Toll Line service rendered the previous day. After such comparison, no rebate or change in the Company's accounts for this service will be made. .........

       This Company does not undertake to deliver messages, and will not, under any circumstances, be responsible for their delivery.

        The book has a list of Toll Call areas and the charges for a 5 minute call.

   Areas such as Bellevue, Dayton, Independence and Florence KY cost 15 cents.

   Areas such as Batavia OH and Lawrenceburgh IN cost 25 cents.

   Areas such as Lexington KY and Piqua OH cost 35 cents.

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