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Rand McNally - History 1856-1871, History 1872-1894, History 1899-1950, Trivia

company printing chicago president

William Rand opened a printing shop in 1856 in Chicago. Two years later, he hired Andrew McNally, an Irish immigrant who had just recently arrived in America, to work in his shop. The shop did very well, its biggest business coming from the Chicago Tribune. In 1859, Rand and McNally were tapped to run the entire printing system of the Chicago Tribune. In 1868, Rand McNally and Company was established and managed to buy out the Chicago Tribune’s printing business. At first, the company focused mostly on printing timetables and train tickets for the railroad system. The next year, they published railroad guides, too. In 1870, the company began to print newspapers and local business directories. When the Great Chicago Fire struck in 1871, Rand McNally buried two of the printing machines it owned in the beaches of Lake Michigan. The company was running again just days later while the majority of the city was still reeling from the disaster.

History 1872-1894

The first Rand McNally map was created in 1872, appearing in an edition of the Railroad Guide. Rand McNally was incorporated in 1873. Rand was the newly appointed president with McNally serving under him as vice president. They began printing educational maps, textbooks, atlases and making globes in 1880. Four years later, they began to publish general literature. The textbook department was created in 1894, the same year that an office was opened in New York City.

History 1899-1950

The company employed around 700 people in 1899. When Willian Rand retired, he sold his stock in the company to various company officers. McNally took on the role of president which he held until his death in 1904. McNally’s son, Frederick, became the president after the death of his father. The first road map was published that same year. Frederick McNally passed away in 1907 and his brother-in-law became the new president of Rand McNally. The company continued to publish literature, including popular children’s books throughout the early 1900s until the mid-1900s.


Rand McNally began to utilize the numbered highways system before any of its competitors. Rand McNally put up a large number of the roadside highway signs in conjunction with publishing maps with numbered roads. The system became popular and was eventually utilized by both state and federal authorities. The oil industry became increasingly interested in road maps, which allowed consumers to use up more gasoline in their driving adventures. Rand McNally soon published road Maps for the Gulf Oil Company. These maps were given out free at gas and service stations. In 1930, Rand McNally’s two major competitors were Gousha and General Drafting. Rand McNally beacme fully digital in 1993.

Ransier, Alonzo J.(1834–1882) - Politician, Takes Seat in House, Chronology, Returns to Charleston [next] [back] Ramsey, Norman (Foster)

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