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McNally family papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-McNallyF

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, diaries, genealogical materials, legal documents, and other items related to multiple generations of the McNally family, particularly Rand McNally founder Andrew McNally, and his great grandson Andrew McNally III.

Family papers also contain genealogical and other materials related to the Clark, MacMillin, Neff, and Vilas families. There is significant material from General Emmons Clark, grandfather of Margaret Clark McNally, who wrote multiple plays and kept journals documenting his life and travels.

Also included are documents related to the purchase, development, and sale of the McNally's Southern California ranch, including correspondence, publicity, oil leases, and maps; the McNally trust; and other miscellaneous real estate properties and financial papers.

Photographs include multiple generations of the McNally family and relatives, including the Clark, MacMillin, Neff, and Vilas families. There is a collection of well-preserved daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, as well as photo albums, scrapbooks, and slides.

Narrative descriptions of the subject matter, types of material, and arrangement of each series are available through the Organization section of the finding aid.


  • Creation: 1788-2002
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1850 - 1993



Materials are in English.


The McNally family papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Conditions Governing Audiovisual Access

Audiovisual recordings in this collection have not been digitized and are unavailable for use at this time.

Ownership and Literary Rights

The McNally family papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of McNally Family

Chicago founder of Rand McNally, Co., and family.

Andrew McNally was born in 1838 in Armagh, Northern Ireland, and emigrated to New York City in 1857. He moved to Chicago about a year later, where he published an evening newspaper called the Star, and also worked at the Chicago Tribune. He met printer William Rand at the Tribune, and two men became business partners, establishing Rand, McNally & Company in 1868. The company initially focused on printing tickets, timetables, and guides for the burgeoning railroad industry, and later expanded to printing business directories and newspapers. Rand McNally began publishing maps for railroads and other businesses in the early 1870s, and throughout the next two decades expanded into trade books, educational maps, general literature, and textbooks. William Rand retired in 1899, and Andrew McNally led the company until 1904.

In the 1880s, Andrew McNally began spending time in southern California, eventually purchasing considerable property which he planted with citrus and olive trees. McNally built a plant to process the high quality olive oil he manufactured, as well as a railroad station from which he could ship his olive oil and fruit all over the U.S. He spent most winters at his home in nearby Altadena while his son-in-law Edwin Neff ran ranch operations from a separate residence. He died in Altadena in 1904.

Andrew McNally married Delia Hyland in 1860, and the couple had five children: Helen M. (Belford), Nancy “Nannie” (Neff), Frederick G., William, and Elizabeth F. (Clow). Nannie and Edwin Neff's son Wallace was an influential architect based in Southern California, known for developing the region's distinct architectural style referred to as "California" style.

Frederick G. McNally was president of Rand McNally until his death in 1907. He married Lydia Wyles in 1884, and their son Andrew F.W. McNally (Andrew McNally II) took over the presidency of Rand McNally in 1933, after the death of his uncle, Harry Clow. Andrew F.W. McNally married Eleanor Vilas in 1908, and the couple had four children: Andrew III, Ward, Eleanor (Bodman), and Frederick G.

Andrew McNally III was born in 1909, and attended Yale University. He began working for Rand McNally as a factory employee in 1931, then as vice president of the company's New York office. During World War II he served with the Army Corps of Engineers Map Service, supervising the production of military maps. Upon his discharge in 1945, he returned to Rand McNally's Chicago offices and, in 1948, succeeded his father to the presidency. Andrew McNally III led the company through a period of strong growth with his decision to expand into book manufacturing, and also oversaw the company's relocation from downtown Chicago to a larger headquarters and printing plant in the suburbs. He stepped down as president of Rand McNally in 1974, but continued as Chairman of the Board for 19 years and Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2001. He was involved with many Chicago institutions, serving as president and life trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Historical Society; president and director of the Geographic Society of Chicago; and trustee of the Newberry Library. He enjoyed a lifelong interest boats, purchasing and renovating a historic houseboat and serving as director of The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, N.Y. He married Margaret Clark in 1936, and the couple had three children: Betty (Ravenel), Andrew IV, and Edward. His son, Andrew IV, succeeded him as president and, later, as chairman. Andrew McNally IV was last McNally to lead the company before the family decided to sell it to an investment firm in the late 1990s.

Biography of the Clark family

Emmons Clark, grandfather of Margaret Clark McNally, was born in Huron, NY in 1827, and graduated from Hamilton College in 1847. He traveled to New York City and found work in a railroad office, later becoming manager. In 1857 he joined the 7th Regiment of New York, serving in three Civil War campaigns as well as the New York City draft riots in 1863. He was promoted to Colonel the following year, and commanded the regiment through the 1871 Orange riots and other unrest. Clark was also instrumental in fundraising efforts for the regiment's Armory (now known as the Park Avenue Armory), completed in 1880, and authored two books about the 7th Regiment: History of the Second Company of the Seventh Regiment (1864) and History of the Seventh Regiment of New York, 1806-1889 (1889). He served as secretary of the New York Board of Health from 1866-1901. Emmons Clark died in 1904.

Emmons Clark married Adelia Augusta Hallett (1839-1891) in 1859, and the couple had six children: Adelia Isabel, Sophronia Tillotson, John Hallett, Emmons Jr., George Hallett, and Edward Bottume. Emmons Clark Jr. worked for Lanman & Kemp, a wholesale drug company, and traveled extensively in Latin America and East Asia visiting the company's customers. Edward married Jane Maguire in 1902, and the couple had one daughter, Margaret, before Edward died in 1908. Jane Maguire later married Emerson MacMillin, a wealthy businessman who legally adopted Margaret.

Biography of the Vilas family

Eleanor Vilas McNally (1884-1977) was the daughter of Carrie Ward Vilas and Royal C. Vilas, a wealthy industrialist based in Chicago. He founded the Pyle National Company, which manufactured electrical equipment, in 1897. Their son Logan A. (Jack) became the first person to cross Lake Michigan by air in 1913, and later flew the first fire detection patrols over Wisconsin forests. Vilas County, Wisconsin, is named for United States senator William Vilas, cousin of Royal C. Vilas.


22.4 Linear Feet (37 boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 5 volumes)


Letters, diaries, scrapbooks, photographs, cemetery records, wills, and obituaries of several generations of the family of Andrew McNally I of Chicago, founder of the Rand McNally Co., a publishing firm specializing in cartography. There is much material concerning Andrew McNally I, his Chicago home, and especially his Windermere Ranch in what became La Mirada, California, including the ranch's olive oil plant and McNally's efforts to promote settlement in the area. Also extensive materials relating to Civil War general Emmons Clark (grandfather of Margaret Clark McNally) and the Vilas family, who operated Chicago businesses and had a summer estate in Thousand Islands, New York.


Papers are organized in the following series

Series 1: Family Papers, 1788-2002
Boxes 1-9
Series 2: McNally Ranch, 1891-1996
Boxes 10-20
Series 3: McNally Trust, 1903-1983
Boxes 21-24
Series 4: Miscellaneous Real Estate and Financial, 1840s-1951
Boxes 25-27
Series 5: Photographs and Audiovisual, 1847-1993
Boxes 28-35
Series 6: Artifacts, 1861-approximately 1927
Box 36
Series 7: Postcards and Travel Ephemera, 1900s-1920s
Box 37

Collection Stack Location

1 26 2-3; 1 30 7, 1 45 2


Gift of Andrew McNally IV, 2002, Edward McNally, 2007-2008, and Jeanine McNally, 2017.

Processed by

Kelly Kress, 2010.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the McNally family papers, 1788-2002, bulk 1850-1993
Kelly Kress
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States