Residential phone listings go the way of the dodo

ELLSWORTH — Since the first known telephone directory was published in 1878 in New Haven, Conn., the phone book has long been a household staple.

But with more people using their iWhatevers to do everything including making calls, the White Pages, as we knew them, are slowly becoming a vestige of an era when phones had cords.

As of last June, residential phone numbers are no longer listed in the printed FairPoint Communications white pages in Maine and New Hampshire.

FairPoint spokesman Angelynne Beaudry said the change was a practical one.

“The first thing to know is that the White Pages aren’t going away: They are going green,” she said.

While the change may be good for the environment, it’s not good for petite people who need a boost to see over the steering wheel.

The 2014 phone book for the Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island region had 129 pages. The June 2015 edition — with no residential listings — had 111 pages.

“The reason [for the change] is because more people are using cell phones and those aren’t included in the White Pages,” Beaudry said. Also, callers are more inclined to find residential listings online at, she said.

Although residential listings will no longer be automatically delivered to every FairPoint customer’s doorstep, free hard copies can be requested by calling (877) 243-8339.

That extra step could prove cumbersome for some among the elderly Hancock County population.

“It could be an issue; I could imagine it would be for some people,” said Jo Cooper, executive director of the Friends in Action senior center in Ellsworth.

However, Cooper said she is surprised by the number of Friends in Action seniors who have and use cell phones.

“I would say that less than 25 percent are computer savvy, but that is changing,” she said. “I feel that that is going to change. But the majority right now, there is not a lot of comfort in using the computer or a smart phone.”

David Thompson, a historian and treasurer of The Telephone Museum in Ellsworth, said the White Pages are a piece of history. The museum has some phone books that are over 60 years old.

“It’s a reflection of the times because there are no directories of cell phone numbers, so the traditional phone companies say, ‘Why bother?’” Thompson said.

Thompson plans to keep his old directories for reference.

“We are going to lose a piece of information by not having the phone directories to refer to,” Thompson said. “I think it would be like if the newspaper suddenly stopped. How would you get obituaries, how would you find out how to fix an air conditioner?”

Noelle Merrill, executive director of the Eastern Area Agency on Aging in Bangor, said she sees phone books going away altogether. And that, she said, is not a bad thing.

“Some people who are older, over 65, have not embraced the technology era. But I think for the most part, those people probably already know their friends’ phone numbers,” Merrill said.

Merrill, 65, can’t remember the last time she looked up a number in the White Pages. She also does not own a landline.

“I think my generation is approaching it a lot differently,” she said. “A lot of us don’t even have landlines to be listed in the White Pages.

“I think things have really started changing, and my generation, we are really not having a problem at all.”

Taylor Bigler Mace

Taylor Bigler Mace

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Taylor covers sports and maritimes for the Islander. As a native of Texas, she is an unapologetic Dallas Cowboys fan. [email protected]
Taylor Bigler Mace

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