Uncover the treasures of Melbourne’s historic directories

Remember when a street directory was the only way to look up someone’s address? The Page Not Found exhibition takes you back to that not-so-long ago era, with a look at the beautiful and historic directories of Melbourne.

Book Pano 03_1968

Melbourne Directory 1968

Published annually, Sands & McDougall’s Directory of Melbourne was the internet of its day, compiling the names of Melbournians into enormous volumes. Remarkably, the data for the directories was collected on foot by doorknockers, who would visit every street address in Melbourne.

9 - End meeting

End Meeting by Oslo Davis

The publishing legacy of Sands & McDougall (and the great beauty of these tomes) is immense. Founded in 1857, the Directory of residents, trades and streets was published until 1974 and remains much-used by historians and genealogists.

Book Pano 02_1888

Melbourne Directory 1888

Curated by arts journalist Andrew Stephens, the exhibition features special illustrations by Oslo Davis and explores how these directories are stories of lost Melbourne, for every year’s volume records the massive changes the city has undergone.

2 - Book size

Book size by Oslo Davis

Search through the historic, leather-bound editions and you may just find an old family house address or the names of some long-buried Melbourne ancestors.

Book Pano 01_1955

Melbourne Directory 1955

Page Not Found is part of City Gallery’s free program of quarterly exhibitions on Melbourne life, past and present, drawing on the city’s extensive art and heritage collection.

Supremely central, yet curiously hard to find, the gallery is located on the Swanston Street side of Melbourne Town Hall, where it shares an entrance with Half-Tix.

Page Not Found is showing until Saturday 20 December, 2014.