Lakeside Classics are books published by R.R. Donnelley & Sons that feature first-person narratives of American history. Since 1903, the books have been released every Christmas, a practice that continues today. However, the books are not sold to the public but instead have been given to employees and others associated with the company.
The format has not changed much over time, though the book covers are updated every 25 years or so; the dark green-covered books, like the ones pictured here, were published in the early 1900s. A few of the titles in the Illinois State Museum collection were issued around the time of Illinois’ centennial and feature narratives surrounding the history of Illinois.
Richard R. Donnelley established R.R. Donnelley & Sons in 1882 after his first business burned in the 1871 Chicago fire. Donnelley borrowed $20 so that he could travel to New York to acquire new presses on credit. He returned to Chicago, where he endeavored to rebuild his business. Eventually, what started as a print shop for telephone books and catalogs became one of the world’s largest commercial publishers, including titles like Time Magazine and Life.