Rand McNally Maps


The maps of Montana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Iowa were all produced by Rand McNally & Company, one of the most prominent American mapmakers of the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The company’s history begins in a Chicago printing shop opened by William Rand in 1856. Rand’s partner, Andrew McNally, who ran the printing operation of the Chicago Tribune, was hired to work in the shop two years after its opening. William Rand and Andrew McNally officially established Rand McNally & Co. in 1868. They initially printed timetables, tickets, and guides for the railroad industry.

While Rand McNally’s earliest maps appeared in their popular railroad guides, a line of educational maps, globes, and textbooks soon followed in 1880. Rand McNally also began producing atlases of the world and North America. The map of Montana [#13] was included in one of Rand McNally’s 1895 atlases, and shows the state’s 22 counties differentiated by color, as well as an inset map of the territory between Helena and Butte, an area especially rich in copper deposits.

In addition to their popular line of atlases, Rand McNally also produced individual maps, such as their line of “Vest Pocket Maps,” which depicted territories, provinces, and states across Canada and the United States. The Vest Pocket Map of Massachusetts [#14] emphasizes the railroad routes connecting the cities and towns of the state, with each railroad line being marked with bold red numbers. As transportation developed, so did opportunities for new maps. Beginning in the 1920s, Rand McNally began publishing maps for oil companies to be distributed at their service stations. These maps, including Standard Oil’s map of Nebraska [#15] and Pure Oil’s map of Iowa [#16], emphasized highways and roads, but often included other helpful information, such as the locations of free camping sites and service stations—making them invaluable companions for automobile travelers.


13. Rand McNally & Co., Montana, 1895
Osher Map Library Collection

State Map

More About Montana

Statehood: 1889
Fun Fact: The world’s smallest river is located in Montana.


14. Rand McNally & Co., Rand-McNally Vest Pocket Map of Massachusetts, c.1905
Osher Collection

State Map

More About Massachusetts

Statehood: 1788
Fun Fact: The North End of Boston, Massachusetts was once flooded by a wave of molasses.


15. Rand McNally & Co., Auto Trails Map State of Nebraska, 1921
Donated by Richard Horwitz

State Map

More About Nebraska

Statehood: 1867
Fun Fact: In Nebraska, you are able to touch the ruts of the Oregon Trail left by wagon wheels from over 160 years ago.


16. Rand McNally & Co., Pure Oil Pathfinder for Iowa, 1937
Osher Map Library Collection

State Map

More About Iowa

Statehood: 1846
Fun Fact: There are around seven times more hogs in Iowa than people.