from OMCA collections 3

Thomas Brothers Maps (often written Thomas Bros.) was a map company that published the once-ubiquitous Thomas Guides, detailed spiral-bound road atlases. Before the advent of Google Maps and other GPS-based services, it was common for drivers to have traditional folding paper maps for larger and less frequently visited areas, but to have a Thomas Guide for their home region. The company also produced the infamous redlining maps for the government-sponsored Home Owners' Loan Corporation in the 1930s.

The company was started by George Coupland Thomas and his brothers in 1915 doing drafting, specializing in block maps used for real estate. c.1925 their office was at 1127 Clay St.; later it was at 361 - 17th St.

from 1925 mapfrom redlining mapfrom 1938 street map 2

1938 street map 2

Wilson Years

After George Thomas died in 1955, his widow Camille hired attorney Warren Wilson, brother of later mayor Lionel Wilson, to help run the company. They knew each other from the Christian Science Reading Room in Montclair. In 1962, she sold 75% of the company to him 6 and died later that year.

1993 5

The company was purchased by Rand McNally in 1998 1 and Wilson retired. The company still publishes Thomas Guides to San Diego County, and Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

Thomas family

The Thomas family was from the Sevenoaks district of Kent County, England, and emigrated in 1885.

  • Richard Coupland Fleming Thomas (1842–1924) - architect
  • Hannah Louisa (Thomas) (1850–1915)
    • Edward C. Thomas (1874–1921) - printing compositor (1900)
    • Marian Thomas (1875–?) - stenographer
    • Lawrence Mollard Thomas (1876–?) - commercial traveler (1900)
    • Hugh MacDermott Thomas (1877–?) - architect
    • Giulbert Heard Thomas (1879–?) - architect; later head of Electric Blue Print and Photo Company. Disappeared while hiking in 1928.
    • Leonard Heard Thomas (1882–1967) - architect
    • George MacDermott Coupland Thomas (1885–1955) - at school (1900); married Camille Besson (Thomas) (1887–1962).

It's yet unknown which of the family members besides George were involved in Thomas Bros. but many of them had suitable backgrounds.

Some of the Thomas family is buried in Mountain View Cemetery.

Links and References

  1. Thomas Guide on Wikipedia
  2. Map of Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, Piedmont, Emeryville, Albany, California David Rumsey Map Collection
  3. 2006.5.14 Oakland Museum of California collections
  4. Rand McNally to Broaden Thomas Bros.’ Horizons Los Angeles Times November 13, 1998
  5. Charting a New course Oakland Tribune January 31, 1993 (p2)
  6. Mapmaker set to travel after selling firm by Paul Cobb Oakland Tribune November 22, 1998