The directories contained detailed lists of private residents, names of streets and squares across the city with the details of their occupants and owners, government offices, public services and medium and large businesses present in the city. They are often used by genealogists for family research in pre-revolutionary Russia and the early soviet period when vital records are missing or prove difficult to find. Historians use them to research the social histories of the city.
Each directory was written exclusively in Russian Cyrillic only, and contains various sections among which was a alphabetical list of residents in the city. Those listed usually were the head of their respective household and so spouses and minors are not listed.
The following information can be found:
A section immediately preceding or following that listing residents in alphabetical order was a directory of all streets, houses and flats with the names of their owners and occupants. In this way readers could determine all those people who lived on a particular street of in a certain apartment block.
The following information can also be found in each directory
Because numerous residents emigrated from Saint Petersburg after the Russian Revolution of 1917 and tens of thousands more were either arrested, shot, or sent to the gulag by the Cheka and the NKVD after 1918 the section detailing residents names is especially useful in determining until when a certain person was still living in the city.
No volumes were published in the following years:
The edition of 1922 was very concise and only contained details of businesses in the city but not residents.
Publication came to a halt after the edition of 1935, coinciding with the time of Stalin's great purges and Moscow Trials. The only further volumes were issued in 1939 and 1940, but these (like the edition in 1922) only contained details of state run businesses and public and governmental offices, but not residents.
Many original directories in the series (or microfiche copies thereof) can be found in libraries across the U.S.A., Europe (including The Baltic, Finland the United Kingdom and Germany) however most only have an incomplete collection. The Russian National Library in Saint Petersburg has a complete run of all volumes published available.
Suvorin also published city directories for Moscow under the title "Vsia Moskva" (All Moscow) for the years 1875 to 1936 and for the whole country under the titles "Vsia Rossiia" (All Russia) continued under than name "Ves SSSR" (All USSR) from 1924 to 1931.
Since 1993 a telephone directory under the title "Ves Petersburg" has been published annually by the publishing House Presskom but this is vastly different in content then the original directories and does not list residents.