CAIRN-INT.INFO : International Edition

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a number of “charity directories” published lists and short descriptions of the various charities in a city (London, New York, Paris, and Geneva are studied here). The charitable worlds described themselves in their own terms in these records, which are quite an interesting and scarcely used source. In this article this source is taken as the very topic of the inquiry. A comprehensive list of directories is given. They are described as products of the publishing industry circulating on competitive markets (London) or in duopolistic (Paris) or almost monopolistic (New York, Geneva) situations. Directories also were means for action: in the late nineteenth century, the more important ones were edited by actors of the charitable world who were determined to organize the charities scientifically and rationalize their practices. Common features of the biographical careers of the “authors” are shown, the modes of production of the directories are described as implying the co-operation of the charities themselves, and the circulation of the model between cities and international discussion of it are documented.


  • Western Europe
  • United States
  • 19th-20th c
  • charities
  • directory
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