The Family and the Company

Richard Robert Donnelley and his family played a central role in the growth of the new printing business and assumed a significant position in the social and cultural life of Chicago.

Richard Robert Donnelley was born in 1836 in Hamilton, Ontario, where he gained his first experience as a teenage printing apprentice.  After several years in the printing industry in New Orleans, he returned to Canada and married Naomi Ann Shenstone of Brantford, Ontario. Shortly after the couple's first son, Reuben Hamilton, was born in 1864, the Donnelleys left Ontario and settled permanently in Chicago.

Following Richard Robert Donnelley's death in 1899, his son Thomas E. Donnelley (1867-1955) assumed the presidency of the family company. His talent as a salesman, commitment to quality craftsmanship, and vision led the company into the new century. Reuben H. (1864-1929), the oldest son, took over the company's directory publishing subsidiary, which was incorporated in 1917 as the Reuben H. Donnelley Corporation, an independent publisher of telephone directories.

Lifetime careers in the company were the norm for the third generation of Donnelleys, including T. E.'s sons Elliott and Gaylord and his son-in-law General Charles C. Haffner, Jr. Named chairman of the board in 1952, Haffner headed the company through its period of post-World War II growth. Elliott Donelley, who had entered the company's apprentice school in 1925, returned after World War II to head the Product Development Division and became vice chairman in 1953. Gaylord Donnelley held many positions with the company and was chairman of the board from 1964 to 1975.

Dedication to the company continued in the fourth generation. Charles C. Haffner III and two of Elliott's four sons, Thomas Elliott II and James R., spent their entire careers with the company. In the fifth generation, Niel (James R.'s son) was named an account manager in retail sales, while Matthew (Elliott's grandson) became a manufacturing-manager trainee. Shawn (Gaylord's granddaughter) has also worked for the company.

R.R. and Naomi Donnelley

[1860s].
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive.

R.R. Donnelley

[1860s].
R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company Archive