Nystrom is the United States' oldest publisher of wall maps and globes for classroom use. The company's educational products include an innovative line of student atlases, laminated desk maps, three-dimensional maps and models, CD-ROMs, web sites, and hands-on curricular programs with complete teacher's guides and detailed student lessons.
The company began as A. J. Nystrom and Company on April 1, 1903, shortly after Mr. Albert J. Nystrom became the exclusive agent for W. & A. K. Johnson, school map publishers of Edinburgh, Scotland. The original staff consisted of one office worker, one map mounter (who also acted as order filler and shipping clerk), and Mr. Nystrom himself. He acted as both president and managing editor until 1923 and continued as president until 1938.
Two developments early in our history allowed us to move from selling other manufacturers' products to creating our own. In 1912 Nystrom acquired Goder Heiman Company, which added two product lines: the Kuhnert "relief like" maps (pictured right) and the Frohse anatomical charts. The company completed the first major publication that was entirely its own in 1915. It was the Sanford American History series, a set of maps that went through many editions and revisions.
The original modest line of educational products grew steadily over the years. We now produce over 100 large-format maps, 10 globes, 20 curricular programs, 11 atlases, 7 websites, 33 laminated desk maps, and a variety of other materials.
As the company's product line grew, so did the need for warehouse, plant, and office space. The company moved three times before purchasing the current Elston Avenue location in 1928. The plant expanded in 1952, again in 1960, once again in 1968. In 2002, the company again upgraded our facilities by finishing a major remodeling and modernization of the plant.
C. A. Burkhart, who was hired as managing editor in 1923, succeeded Mr. Nystrom as president in 1938. Burkhart's most important contribution to the company—and to education—the development of simplified maps and globes for children's use. Before then, beginners were expected to use detailed maps and globes that were originally designed for use by adults.
Ever since Burkhart's time, the design of age-appropriate educational materials has been a continuing theme at Nystrom. The company has pioneered the development of maps, globes, charts, and atlases that are geared to specific levels from kindergarten through high school.
The Raised Relief Map Division of the Aero Service Corporation was acquired in 1965 under the company's third president, Charles Stateler.
This acquisition brought a raised relief manufacturing capability and expertise that is still important today. To the delight of school children and teachers, Nystrom released its first raised relief globes in 1973. The company continues to sell dramatic raised relief maps and globes that are unlike any others in the school market.
In 1966 A. J. Nystrom & Co. became a subsidiary of Field Enterprises, which also owned World Book, television and radio stations, and two Chicago newspapers. It was during the Field years, in the early 1970s that Nystrom developed the first "hands-on geography" curricular program. Nystrom became known for such products, which place markable maps, globes, and models in the hands of students and then lead them step by step through hands-on learning activities.
In 1973 Nystrom was acquired by Herff Jones, which was in turn acquired by Carnation, so for the next several years we were known as the Nystrom division of Carnation. When Carnation was bought by Nestle in 1985, a small group of employee investors acquired the Herff Jones and Nystrom divisions from Nestle. We became known as the Nystrom Division of Herff Jones, Inc.
In 2014, Nystrom was acquired by Social Studies School Service, a provider of the highest-quality supplemental learning materials for teachers and students for nearly 50 years. Social Studies School Service is committed to providing engaging classroom resources that challenge students to think critically, and we constantly strive to offer adaptable materials that facilitate differentiation and connect with students of every learning style and level.
In the early 1990s, Nystrom made an important transition into the digital publishing world by purchasing Apple Macintosh computers for the Cartography Department. Before then all of the company's cartographic work was done by conventional manual methods. This allowed us to produce our products much faster, bringing a more up-to-date product than ever before. For example, it took 11 cartographers two years to produce the first 96-page World Atlas. Nystrom's 176-page Desk Atlas, produced digitally in 1994, took half as many cartographers and half as much time.
Today, all of Nystrom's new products—including 65-inch wall maps—are produced digitally. With the new technology has come greater speed, enhanced design, and quicker revisions—all leading to greater and greater refinement in an educational product line already known for that quality.
As Nystrom continues into its second century—Nystrom turned 100 on April 1, 2003—the company continues its primary mission of...
Helping teachers teach and students learn
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