Classic Rotary Phones Forum

Telephone Switching => General Switching Discussions => Exchange Names, Area Codes etc => Topic started by: Phonesrfun on October 28, 2009, 12:01:40 AM

Title: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on October 28, 2009, 12:01:40 AM
When I was a kid, our family moved to Portland, Oregon in the early 50's.  Our number was LIncoln-1971.  In 1957 they added a 2 in the front and our number became ALpine 4-1971.  I was kind of intrigued by this, and found the Telephone Exchange Name project at

http://rcrowe.brinkster.net/tensearch.aspx 

This is a searchable database of old exchange names for many US cities.  The search engine is pretty clunky, so if you can live through that, it is a good source.  About a year ago, I was in Portland, and went to the county library and found that there is still a microfilm library there available of the local newspapers going back to the 1800's, complete with an old manual paper card catalog to look up newspaper articles by topic.  That turned out to also be a goldmine to follow through time the advances that the phone company had made throughout time in putting in more and more facilities.

Anyway, I just thought some would find this resource of the exchange name project interesting.



xzzx-TEN Project-xzzx


Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: rp2813 on October 28, 2009, 12:13:40 AM
I have been to a couple of these sites and agree that one or both are very clunky.  I made as many entries for my area as I could remember.  Interesting how Ma Bell implemented the change from 6-digit to 7-digit numbers for your exchange.  That must have been a big deal.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Dennis Markham on October 28, 2009, 12:16:24 AM
Bill, that's interesting how you remembered the switch from LIncoln to ALpine.  So the numbers changed from a 6-digit to 7 at that time, in your area.  I'll bet it was difficult to remember, or get used to reciting your "new" number.

I have referenced that TenProject web site on many occasions.  It's amazing how many exchange names are listed.  I think the list continues to grow as people add numbers from their own memories.  Whenever I buy a phone with an exchange card I always check this site to see if it's there.  Very often the number will appear from a city or town that is close to the eBay seller that sold the phone.  It's really a good way to track the origin of a phone, assuming of course the card has not been changed.  It seems like many of the old black 500's still have their original cards.  

Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on October 28, 2009, 12:28:56 AM
One of the things that was always interesting to me is that my grandmother had been a telephone operator since she was a girl.

I have a picture of her at a switchboard in 1927 in Portland.  The event was that during that week-end, LA, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle were all taking turns in making an historic trans-Atlantic telephone call from the US West Coast to London, to inaugurate the opening of trans-Atlantic commercial telephone calls.  She was one of several operators that were involved in setting up the connection that took only 18 minutes start to finish to make, over various land-lines and a radio link.  Unheard of speed at the time.  Once my mother gave me the picture, I had to go to the library to confirm that it did happen, and Yes, it most certainly did.  In fact, the news article ran in the Oregonian and the Oregon Journal newspapers from Friday of that week–end, announcing that it was going to happen, all the way through Sunday, complete with a chart showing the wire route over the US and the radio link over the ocean to England.  They also ran a transcript of the conversation that happened between the high mucky-mucks at the phone company as they made their historic call.

Here is a photo of my grandmother (standing behind the operator seated at the switchboard)  This happened at the end of February, so everyone is in heavy clothing.

Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AtomicEraTom on October 28, 2009, 12:36:28 AM
Added info to the site :) Dad's was HOpkins 6-5633
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on October 28, 2009, 12:38:27 AM
Tom:

Great that you added to the database!

-Bill
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bwanna on October 28, 2009, 06:17:23 AM
bill, beautiful photo of your granny. what a neat piece of history to have in your family.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: McHeath on October 28, 2009, 10:04:31 AM
That's a very cool picture and great family history tale.  Do you suppose that your grandmas job was to make sure the girls in the seats plugged the wires into the right holes?  There seems to be another woman doing the same job behind her.  So some sort of supervisor perhaps? 
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Dennis Markham on October 28, 2009, 10:17:44 AM
Bill, you're lucky to have that photo and the story to go with it.  No wonder you have an interest in collecting telephones, it's in your blood!  Thanks for sharing that bit of history and your family photo.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: rp2813 on October 28, 2009, 01:12:27 PM
That photo looks like a scene right out of "Changeling."  So Bill, was your grandmother wearing roller skates?  I think it was common practice for these types of monitors or supervisors to be cruising up and down the switchboards back in those days.  Not sure if I'm correct on this, but I'm pretty sure those types of switching offices were called "step-by-step" and many of them still existed into the 70's and 80's in the more remote areas until they were upgraded to electromechanical equipment.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on October 28, 2009, 01:17:48 PM
I wish my grandmother was still around to ask her questions.  So, whether she is wearing skates or not, I just don't know.  When I watched the movie "Chengeling", it reminded me of this picture and my grandmother.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bingster on October 30, 2009, 09:16:40 PM
Way back when, it was common for the supervisor to roam behind the operators in case of a problem, when she would then plug her headest in to the operator's board to help resolve the problem.  Later on, problem calls were switched to the supervisor's own station.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: rp2813 on November 09, 2009, 07:45:45 PM
On closer observation (hmmm . . . likely the Ma Bell term for what the supervisors were doing) I don't think anybody was on skates in that picture.  The one supervisor in the background appears to be in heels.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: foots on November 10, 2009, 03:32:56 AM
I have a sticker on the bottom of my good SC1243 for the Volunteer Fire Dept. in Chappaqua New York. The number is CE8-4422 - does anybody here happen to know what the exchange name was for Chappaqua? It didn't show up on the  exchange name lookup. I'd like to find out so I can get a dial card made up for this phone.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bingster on November 10, 2009, 06:43:13 AM
Even though a Stromberg wouldn't have been used in the Bell system, the Bell reccommended exchange names for CE were CEdar, CEnter, and CEntral.  It might have been one of those, especially CEntral, which was a very common exchange.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on November 11, 2009, 01:03:23 AM
Foots:

I went there and did the drop-down of Chappaqua from the cities list.  No other inputs.  CE shows up there as CEntral.

Their search engine is very slow.  Select the city and then go get a Coke or something while you wait for it to come back to you.

Good luck
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on July 12, 2010, 10:22:56 PM
can any one find the exchange for Parsons T.N.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on July 12, 2010, 10:41:53 PM
Try The Exchange Name Project at http://rcrowe.brinkster.net/tensearch.aspx

It is a slow database and takes some getting used to, but it has proven to be very helpful.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on July 13, 2010, 03:16:40 PM
 Parsons=VIctory-7
Decaturville=ULrich-2
Lexington=WOodland-8
Scotts Hill= LIberty-9
and Sardis= UL(guessng ULrich-8)
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AtomicEraTom on July 14, 2010, 02:22:12 AM
Looking for Pardeeville, Wisconsin's. 
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on July 14, 2010, 02:27:49 AM
is it a small town with a larger city it might have shared an exchange with the bigger city
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: rp2813 on July 20, 2010, 02:27:50 PM
Kenny, check and see if your library has any old directories that would provide exchange names, or you can look up some old newspapers and skim through the ads for phone numbers.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on July 20, 2010, 02:28:49 PM
ok i will if i ever get the chance
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AtomicEraTom on July 21, 2010, 03:15:09 AM
Very small town, exchange is 429
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bingster on July 22, 2010, 10:17:44 PM
If it's a very small town, the chances are very likely that it never had an exchange.  Many small towns and suburban places had party lines with numbers like 42J or 6M13. Or if they had direct dial, non-party systems, they might have had complete phone numbers like 42 or 738.   Today we're so used to a standard number configuration that it's hard to understand that there was a time when there was absolutely nothing approaching a nationwide standard, and for a very large percentage of the population, exchange names were something totally foreign.  Many places didn't get a standard exchange until the 1960s, after exchange names were officially dropped.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AtomicEraTom on January 07, 2011, 01:47:22 PM
I was thinking the same thing.  I've bought some phones locally with numbers like 42W in the dial center.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: McHeath on January 07, 2011, 04:33:41 PM
As I know who built my house I was able to look them up at the library in an old telephone directory.  That gave me the phone number for my house back in the day, which is pretty fun to have that info. 
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on January 07, 2011, 04:35:37 PM
Thats neat I know my grandmas was

VIctory 7-2546

And my great aunts was 

VIctory 7-2544
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: marty on February 04, 2011, 01:32:47 PM
Hi All;
Is there a listing of the standard Bell Exchange Names.. Here the numbers are 449, 494, 499, What word would have been used... Where I grew up, it was West 5, (935)... I am trying to find the right Center dial Exchange word...
THANK YOU Marty
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: jsowers on February 04, 2011, 03:28:18 PM
Marty,

Here's a website with a huge databse of exchange names and a lookup by numbers dialed, city and state. It's not the greatest search engine in the world, but it works. They also have a link to the list of recommended exchange names if your search by city and state doesn't bring anything up.

http://ourwebhome.com/TENP/TENproject.html (http://ourwebhome.com/TENP/TENproject.html)

There's a nice GIbraltar card in the Type II cards on Dave Margulius' site. They aren't arranged in order by exchange name, so it takes some looking. It's a great site, though.

http://www.telephonearchive.com/numbercards/index.html (http://www.telephonearchive.com/numbercards/index.html)
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Kenny C on February 04, 2011, 03:29:17 PM
I looked it up and it's HIllcrest-9 For your location.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bingster on February 05, 2011, 08:14:20 AM
Keep in mind that not all towns had exchange names, and for those that did, many, many exchange names existed that were local place names, and so aren't on that "approved list."  Additionally, many locations didn't have the same exchange number forever.  It's quite possible that a current exchange has only been around twenty or forty years, and that the old one was completely different.

The best bet to find YOUR exchange name, if there was one, is to visit a local library and look at the ads in old newspapers, or the listings in old phone books.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on February 05, 2011, 06:36:04 PM
That is good advice.   In the town I grew up in, Portland, Oregon, most exchanges went through a change in the mid 1950's.  Portland went from two letters and four numbers to two letters, and five numbers.  Over the course of about five years, all the 2L-4N number exchanges were changed over.  At the start of the conversion, any brand new exchanges started out as 2L-5N exchanges.

Our number started out as LInclon-1971 (54-1971) and went to ALpine 4-1971 (254-1971).  In this case they simply added a "2" in front of the number and chose another "name".  Others in that area that went through the change got entirely new exchange names and all new 4-digit numbers.  I guess adding a digit at the front in some cases would not fit the numbering plan, so they went with something entirely different.

I once found some old articles in the local newspaper at the local library microfilm stacks that were written at the time to tell everyone of the changes and how it was going to effect them.  Newpaper ads for businesses before the conversion had the old shorter numbers, and ads after that time listed the new numbers.

Phone books had the same thing, of course.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: bingster on February 05, 2011, 07:25:09 PM
Exactly.  There were so many different methods of updating the exchanges, even within the same regional company, that simply going to the approved list for an exchange is an exercise in futility, if it's historical accuracy you're after.  If all you want is a cool exchange name to put on a dial card, then it's perfectly fine. But if you want to find the actual exchange, the approved list can't give you that with any certainty.

The exchange at the house I grew up in is 345, and I always wondered what the exchange name was for those numbers.  It was only a couple years ago that I learned the old exchange name for our house was actually TOwer (86), which bears no resemblance to the current exchange.  There never was a name for the 345 exchange because it replaced TOwer after exchange names had been officially abandoned.

The next exchange over in our town, which was right down the street, was GRanite, and the new exchange was (and is) GRanite 4.  So one was changed completely, while the other simply had a number appended to it.  
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on February 05, 2011, 07:45:52 PM
Yes, the same happened with the exchange I grew up with.  After many years as ALpine 4-1971, Ma Bell built a new exchange in the late 1960's for the area our house was in.  This time, we went to 761-5766 and there was no exchange name designated for this at all.  By then, they had changed from publishing phone books that listed AL4-1971 numbers to being the 254-1971 format.

This all led to having area codes and non-operator assisted DDD (Direct Distance Dialing).

Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Jim Stettler on February 06, 2011, 12:04:39 AM
Here one of early exchanges was 635.
It was originally MELrose, then MElrose 5, and finally just 635.

Jim
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: oliva7 on July 11, 2012, 01:40:56 PM
It occurred to me to finally pry off the cover in the center of my 202 and change the number to my own.  In 1937 and still in 1978 when I was 5, all the Concord NH exchanges were 224, 5, or 8.  When I moved this spring, I asked Fairpoint for a number in those exchanges and they obliged.   I plan to print a blank and glue it over the original.  Failing that I can type the numbers on a tan adhesive label and stick that on.   

But this is off the point.  Just for curiosity's sake, how can I determine what letters went with 22x?  My 1937 city directory (coincidence) is no help, as most numbers listed are one, two, and three digits, assuming you know do dial 4 and the correct number of zeroes.   I will go out on a limb and suggest ABbot, a local name, but it could have been CAbot, or anything.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Russ Kirk on July 11, 2012, 02:14:22 PM
This site might help a bit. However,  I think it mught be a little behind with the updates.

Telephone EXchange Name Project

http://ourwebhome.com/TENP/TENproject.html

Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: jsowers on July 11, 2012, 03:23:16 PM
Searching their database is a little odd because they have states listed several ways, so I thought I would look for you. It says 22 in Concord, NH is CApitol. And it's not CApital with an "a" at the end. It's CApitol, like the record company or the Capitol in Washington, DC.

Here is a site with lots of cards to give you an idea of how it's supposed to look...

http://www.telephonearchive.com/numbercards/index.html (http://www.telephonearchive.com/numbercards/index.html)

If you're handy with Photoshop, you could download and modify one of the card jpgs and put in your exchange. There are a few with the "a" CApital, but I couldn't see any with the "o" CApitol. For a regular 202, the classic WE Type I or II cards would be appropriate for the years it was made. Later in the 50s the Imperial and Continental 202s would have had the Type III cards.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: oliva7 on July 11, 2012, 04:47:02 PM
A thousand thanks- tusen tack- for saving me the metaphorical legwork, jsowers, and thanks to you, too, Mr Kirk, for giving me a new website to play with.  I'm embarrassed I didn't think of CApital, not only is it a bit obvious, but there are dozens of local businesses with that name.   I did download a copy of the same blank and I am sufficiently skilled with Photoshop to scale it.  

Now, I know my mother's childhood exchange was OLympic (Natick), and I think father's was PLeasant (Worcester 753)...
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AE_Collector on July 11, 2012, 07:26:12 PM
Area's had many different exchange names for the NNX digits that were in use in the area. And of course the name may have changed over the years from when it was a 5 or 6 digit phone number versus a 7 digit number. In Greater vancouver, 22x was "CAstle" but prior to that it was ALMa and prior to that it was Point Grey (manual office then, non dial).

Terry
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: poplar1 on July 11, 2012, 07:49:29 PM
Terry, what other Canadian cities used 3 letter + 4 numbers? (In US it was only New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Chicago).
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: AE_Collector on July 11, 2012, 08:35:23 PM
Oh I'm sorry. That was my bad typing again. Should have been ALma. I don't know of any 3L 4D exchanges in Canada but I haven't researched it other than in Britsh Columbia.

I fixed my typo above.

Terry
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Dan/Panther on July 12, 2012, 02:00:24 AM
Quote from: oliva7 on July 11, 2012, 01:40:56 PM
It occurred to me to finally pry off the cover in the center of my 202 and change the number to my own.  In 1937 and still in 1978 when I was 5, all the Concord NH exchanges were 224, 5, or 8.  When I moved this spring, I asked Fairpoint for a number in those exchanges and they obliged.   I plan to print a blank and glue it over the original.  Failing that I can type the numbers on a tan adhesive label and stick that on.   

But this is off the point.  Just for curiosity's sake, how can I determine what letters went with 22x?  My 1937 city directory (coincidence) is no help, as most numbers listed are one, two, and three digits, assuming you know do dial 4 and the correct number of zeroes.   I will go out on a limb and suggest ABbot, a local name, but it could have been CAbot, or anything.

Oliva7;
I would save the old card and just replace it with your new one.
D/P
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Babybearjs on July 12, 2012, 03:08:06 AM
I just started using my exchange name.... ESsex7-xxxx is mine.... dont know how accurate it is to the area though.....
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Adam on July 12, 2012, 08:55:52 AM
Old exchange names are fun!

Although I currently live 25 miles out of my original area, for the number of my C*NET exchange I picked the number of my first phone when I moved to Los Angeles in 1979, which was 213-383.

I have since determined, with the help of this cool web site http://www.thecentraloffice.com/ (http://www.thecentraloffice.com/) that number was served out of the Rampart Central Office and that 38 was DUnkirk.
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Babybearjs on August 18, 2013, 12:07:03 AM
hey Bill, did they even heat to operators work room? it looks like everyones cold!
Title: Re: The TEN Project - Researching Telephone Exchange Names
Post by: Phonesrfun on August 18, 2013, 05:36:46 PM
Quote from: Babybearjs on August 18, 2013, 12:07:03 AM
hey Bill, did they even heat to operators work room? it looks like everyones cold!

??