Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 15, 2013
Early Rand McNally offering

Early Rand McNally offering

April 15, 1924: The Rand McNally Auto Chum is first published. In 1856, William Rand opened a print shop in Chicago. Two years later, Andrew McNally came to work there. They printed material for the forerunner of the Chicago Tribune and by 1859 they were hired to run the paper’s whole printing operation. By 1868, they were officially called Rand McNally & Co. and began printing tickets and timetables for Chicago’s railroads. The next year they put out complete railroad guides and began printing business directories as well as People’s Weekly, an illustrated newspaper.

Using a brand new wax engraving method, their first map appeared in the December 1872 Railroad Guide. Their Business Atlas contained information, including maps, needed for savvy business planning. Still updated, it is now called Commercial Atlas & Marketing Guide. They began publishing Trade Books in 1877 and made their first maps for school use in 1880 with globes and geography textbooks also available. They made their first city roadmap for New York City in 1904.

They continued to publish books, textbooks, and maps. The Auto Chum grew up and became the Rand McNally Road Atlas. It was first published in full color in 1960 and became fully digitized in 1993. They continued to improve on methods of map making. Dr. Arthur H. Robinson was commissioned to devise a more accurate method of creating world maps in 1963 and his method is now used – globally. Today, they not only print maps, but produce a GPS system called IntelliRoute TND which is designed for the over-the-road trucker .

The headquarters moved to Skokie, Illinois outside Chicago in 1952. They also had a book publishing plant in Versailles, Kentucky, which opened in 1962. They were the first to use a new Kodak computer-to-plate printing process. William Rand retired in 1899 and the McNally family ran the company until 1993. They were purchased by Patriarch Partners in 2007. CEO Dave Muscatel now heads the company. They have more than 60,000 retail outlets and supply 98% of US schools with maps.

“Our customers live for the time they spend out on the open road. The all-in-one Ride Atlas features some of the most incredible rides in North America, hand-picked by Harley-Davidson and detailed by Rand McNally.” – Tom Parsons

“A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.” – Oscar Wilde

“All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination.” – Earl Nightingale

“Rand McNally Map to Space.” – Map in ALF’s spaceship

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: William Rand was born in 1828 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He worked as an apprentice for his brother’s print shop located in Boston. He moved to Los Angeles in 1849, lured by the California Gold Rush and founded the state’s first newspaper there. He returned to Boston in 1856 for a short time before settling in Chicago. There he opened his print shop. Andrew McNally was born in 1838 in Armagh, Northern Ireland and came to New York City in 1857. He was a printer by trade and moved to Chicago in 1858. There he was hired by William Rand and was paid $9 per week. The two became business partners and Rand, McNally & Co. was incorporated in 1868. When the company sold in 1997, it was for a reported $500 million.

Also on this day: Going for the Gold – In 1896 the first Modern Olympic Games come to an end.
Leonardo – In 1452, Leonardo da Vinci was born.
Sunk – In 1912, the Titanic sunk.