The R. H. Donnelley Company claims to have published the first telephone “book” when it was founded in 1886 by Reuben Hamilton Donnelley (the son of Richard Robert Donnelley) as The Chicago Directory Company. Donnelley primarily contracted with The Chicago Telephone Company to publish telephone directories for Chicago Telephone customers. In 1906, however, Donnelley would venture outside Chicago, contracting with Bell System firms such as New York Telephone, Wisconsin Telephone, and Cincinnati Suburban Telephone Co.
In 1917, The Reuben H. Donnelley Company was incorporated and moved to New York City, retaining some offices in Chicago. In 1925, Donnelley died, leaving behind his company which continued to contract with the Bell System to publish telephone directories.
In 1961, Dun & Bradstreet Corp. traded stock with RHD, and RHD became a wholly owned subsidiary.