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Reference Resources: Directories of Organizations

A collection of reference tools to help you in the research and writing process.


Directories are tools that contain basic information about individual organizations. They typically are a collection of individual records that describe the same kinds of information, across a wide number of entities. Common types of directories are listed below.

Although they can be used like a phone book, for look-ups of individual organization information, directories are most useful for finding and listing a number of organizations by specific criteria, such as city, zip code, topic or type.

Directories are especially popular with people doing job searches, prospecting for internship sites, or preparing contact lists for research surveys.


The Leadership Directories provides searchable information more than 40,000 major United States government, business, news media, law firm, and nonprofit organizations, including contact information for leadership and key staff details. Originally published in print as “the Yellow Books,” its online search can create lists of organizations grouped by features like geographic area, industry, job title, school affiliation, directorships, type and size of organization, and more.


Google can be useful to uncover online directories. All you have to do is type your topic word followed by the word ‘directory.’

Keep in mind that not every item in your results is free, and many good and/or free items can appear lower in the results list due to crowding out by paid advertising or other sites that use aggressive search engine optimization to appear higher in search results.

There also are ‘directories’ of useful sites on the web. These web directories function as good starting points because they identify high-quality websites on various topics. The items that appear in these web directories are selected by editors and meet certain quality and content criteria.

Here are some of the most popular website directories: