Specifically, it is impossible that Ayn Rand could have seen the name “Rand” on the nameplate of a Remington Rand, Remington or Rand typewriter at the time she chose her professional name. There weren’t any such typewriters at the time!
A story which has persisted since 1986 is that Ayn Rand chose to change her surname from Rosenbaum to Rand from having noticed the name “Rand” on a Remington Rand typewriter. According to the considerably-inaccurate full-volume biography in which this story was introduced, Ayn Rand was staying in Chicago at the time. The typewriter in question was one that she had been using extensively to type some of her earliest efforts at writing stories in English, and this typewriter was in the room with her in the home where she was staying. Chicago was Ayn Rand’s city of residence from just after her first arrival in the United States in February 1926, until she left for Los Angeles the summer of that same year.
However, there was no Remington Rand typewriter in the room with her, nor in the possession of any of the relatives with whom she stayed in Chicago, nor anywhere else in Chicago. There weren’t any Remington Rand typewriters anywhere else in the United States either, nor anywhere in the world. This is so because the Remington and Rand companies had not yet merged! The two companies did not merge until the following year. Ayn Rand was living in Hollywood, Calif., when the merger took place.
Remington and Rand were two separate companies while Ayn Rand was in Chicago
|On the same February 9, 1927, on which the Hartford Courant reported that the independent Remington Typewriter Co. issued dividends, The New York Times reported on a coming merger.|
|The following day — February 10, 1927 — numerous newspapers reported on the merger. The five headlines selected here are from Chicago Daily Tribune, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Daily Globe, and Hartford Courant (listed clockwise from upper right).
Then as now, mergers were announced after the parties had already engaged in negotiations over a period of time. Outsiders should presume that general agreements had been reached the prior month. On March 12, 1927, The New York Times carried a story headlined “REMINGTON-RAND OPERATIVE; Merger of Three Corporations Declared Effective by Directors.”
|Remington Typewriter Company in the news by that name apart from Remington Rand
Newspapers which from 1931 to 1934 reported on business developments at the typewriter division within Remington Rand did so by referring to the division as the Remington Typewriter division of Remington Rand Inc. Four of the five stories accompanying this caption are from The Wall Street Journal, which then as now endeavored to accurately report on business firms. Just as the typewriter nameplates and advertising issued by the corporation maintained the Remington Typewriter name as a continuation of practices established before the merger, the former-standalone typewriter company continued to operate under its old name within the new corporate shell.
The second-from-top news clipping shown here is from The New York Times, which like the Journal is a newspaper of record. News stories are displayed here in chronological order.
(As with documents shown throughout this web page, the citations for these five news clippings appear at the bottom of this web page, under the header “Sources and Notes.”)
WWII — No changes
So when did the Remington Rand company itself add the name Rand to the faceplates of the typewriters shown in their own advertisements? Could it have been during the World War II years? Advertising by the company of typewriters during these years was sparse. Furthermore, it’s likely that the company did not introduce new typewriter models and saw no need to make adjustments to their existing product lines while the American economy was geared to defeating Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan.
The War Production Board limited the company’s production of typewriters (and that of competitor Smith & Corona) to a small fraction of what it had been pre-war; the allocation during the first quarter of 1944 was just 9% of pre-war production. The Remington Rand factories were busy manufacting armaments. The typewriters that did come off the assembly lines were eagerly sought by government agencies engaged in the war effort. Remington Rand did not need to advertise nor change its product, as demand for its typewriters outstripped what it could supply.
|After the War, customers flocked to retailers. Once the Remington Rand factories could return to normal production geared to civilians and businesses, and stores again were stocked in 1946 with typewriters, Ayn Rand had reached the best-seller lists and had sold the movie rights to The Fountainhead for more money than the average person at the time earned in a decade. It is only at this time (as near as I can tell from the resources I examined) that advertisements other than those in Sears catalogues first showed typewriters that had the Remington Rand name embossed on the front. On the model shown in this 1947 ad, only the name “Remington” appears above the keys but the full name “Remington Rand” appears near the paper carriage. This ad shows an updated face for the Model 5.
Even while the Remington Rand name turns up on some models in 1947 ads, the name Remington by itself continued to appear on the faces of other typewriter models shown in ads this same year and subsequent years. There was apparently a gradual transition toward putting both names on the nameplates.
Why Haven’t These Facts Been Better Known?
The Ayn Rand Institute newsletter (Impact) of May 1997 reported, as regards the “source of her last name”, ”One story in circulation is that she took the name from a Remington Rand typewriter. This is false. We have letters from her family in Russia that refer to the name ‘Rand’ but were written before they had heard from her in America.” The newsletter went on to report a plausible explanation: the letters in “Rand” are a slight rearrangement of the Cyrillic-alphabet letters that spell Rosenbaum. I have created a web page which spells out this explanation, and shows animation which illustrates the theory, available at arname.dhwritings.com. (This article, originally with just one of the two animations, has been online since December 1999.)
Allan Gotthelf knew Ayn Rand — he prepared the indexes to some of her collections of her essays published during her lifetime — and nearly two decades after her death, having earned a reputation as a respected professor of philosophy, published a book in the Wadsworth Philosophers Series titled On Ayn Rand. Doing publicity for the book by appearing on the Prodos internet radio program in April 2000, he shared with listeners his research debunking the notion that Ayn Rand came to her name from a Remington Rand typewriter. Dr. Gotthelf acknowledged that getting facts about the origin of Rand’s choice of surname had proven difficult for him and Michael Berliner (the then-head of the Ayn Rand Institute) and that this would account for a revision between the first and second printings of On Ayn Rand. Gotthelf told the listening audience:
Here’s the rub, as they say in Shakespeare: Ayn Rand chose the name “Rand” before she left Russia; that means January to February 1926. So let’s say she had the name December 1925. The Remington Rand company didn’t form as a merger of the two companies Remington Typewriter and Rand Kardex until January 1927. That’s something we found out through the typewriter historians. I did one thing further, which was I went to the archives of the Remington Rand company, which are held in Hagley Library, just south of Wilmington, Delaware. I actually made a trip down there to confirm what they told me by telephone, which matched what some of the historians had said, that the merger was in January, and was effective in March of '27. Now, the Remington company was making typewriters back into the 1880s and exporting them to Russia, but of course her name is not Ayn Remington, so that is irrelevant. The Rand company was not making typewriters, they were making card files and other office equipment that had nothing to do with typewriters, that nobody would confuse with typewriters. Furthermore, it does not appear that the company put the name Remington Rand on the typewriters until 1933. In my draft version of an intended second edition of On Ayn Rand, I just say this fact that the merger which eventually put Rand on typewriters did not occur until January 1927, and I left the rest of the ‘Remington Rand’ history as an uncertainty. What’s clear is that she chose the name ‘Rand’ well before the Remington Rand company
(It is not clear from Gotthelf’s wording whether his finding that the name Remington Rand was not put onto typewriters until 1933, refers to the small plate appearing next to the patent information on the backs of the machines as opposed to the more conspicuous embossed names on the fronts of the machines.)
Jeff Britting, archivist at the Ayn Rand Archives within the Ayn Rand Institute, published his book Ayn Rand in the Overlook Illustrated Lives series (Overlook Duckworth, Peter Mayer Publishers) in 2004. Thin at 136 pages, its hard covers smaller than a DVD case, its profusely-illustrated pages leaving limited space for text, this book is nonetheless packed with little-known and previously-unknown information. With publication of this book, there was now a readily-accessible source of information about Miss Rand’s life substantiated by documentation she left behind. On page 33, Britting reports,
A new country, language, and profession raised the issue of adopting a new name. Vocal in her opposition to the Bolsheviks and confident of one day achieving fame in the United States, she was mindful of the price her family might pay for her outspokenness. While still in Russia—a letter from her sister reveals—she picked “Rand”as her new surname and considered “Lil” as a possible first name. Ultimately, she selected “Ayn,” which she derived from a Finnish name. [emphasis added]
Be that as it may, journalists and other writers for mainstream media have not sought out the knowledgeable people mentioned above when compiling biographical profiles of Ayn Rand. As a result, the same wrong, debunked story about the typewriter has been retold so many times it can be surmised that too many writers assume the story no longer is questioned, let alone that the story is untrue.
Biography magazine is from the company that makes the Biography documentary television series which has long been a staple of the A&E cable television network and its spin-off, the channel named Biography. The January 2000 issue of the print magazine (sold at newsstands and in bookstores as well as by subscription) was one of many sources to repeat the disproven contention about the typewriter which allegedly gave Ayn Rand her name while she was in Chicago. The magazine didn’t merely leave the story to the blocks of text which made up the narrative attributed to writer/contributing editor Dorothy Rompalske; the magazine’s editor or layout artists decided that the typewriter story was one of the few elements entitled to be illustrated by a large photo and accompanying caption. Thus, even those flipping through the pages were likely to stop upon seeing a photo of a woman seated behind an old typewriter and to then glance at the caption explaining that Ayn Rand came to have her name because she chose it from the names on a Remington Rand typewriter. The errors made by Biography magazine didn’t end there: the photo they chose to illustrate this alleged “fact” about Ayn Rand was a photo of Margaret Mitchell next to a typewriter and manuscript pages of Gone With the Wind! Apparently, to editors at Biography magazine, one best-selling woman author whose first novel was published in 1936 by Macmillan looks just the same as another!!
And still the parroting of the factually-indefensible story went on.
A malicious-to-Rand 2005 book with bizarre errors and some especially peculiar errors of what should be common knowledge, The Fountainheads: Wright, Rand, the FBI and Hollywood by Donald Leslie Johnson, reports of Ayn Rand while in Chicago: “While pecking at a typewriter she decided on Ayn Rand rather than Ayn Remington.” (pg. 34) If readers didn’t understand why she would have been Ayn Remington otherwise, Johnson doesn’t tell them.
(Are you wondering what prompts me to say that Johnson’s book has “peculiar errors of what should common knowledge”? Did you ever think there could be a book where having a background in popular culture of the 1940s should be a prerequisite for writing the book and yet where the author would say that Orson Welles’s film Citizen Kane “was released in 1939”? Johnson does this (preceding quote is from pg. 44, with error repeated on page 216). The film actually first reached theaters May 1941. Johnson mentions Kane in a context suggesting Welles’s depiction of William Randolph Hearst could have influenced Ayn Rand’s partial fictional conception of Hearst as Gail Wynand in The Fountainhead. Given the corrected timeframes involved, this is not possible. My full review is on Amazon.)
And still more: A thick volume published in 2007 about Ayn Rand’s longest novel, consisting of three dozen essays, most of those essays written by faculty of colleges and universities, the volume as a whole edited by a university professor, contains this statement: “We are all familiar with the story of how the inexperienced young woman, armed only with a Remington Rand typewriter, and speaking the language inexpertly, landed a job with a titan of the film world, Cecil B. De Mille.” The essay does not set up this statement to shoot it down — the assertion about the typewriter is left unchallenged by the author. (Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, ed. Younkins, essay by Mimi Reisel Gladstein, pg. 109)
A number of the contributors to this multi-author volume are persons not affiliated with the Ayn Rand Institute who complain that they do not receive the respect sometimes accorded to scholars who are affiliated with ARI. Such authors who complain might turn their heads to look into mirrors long enough to notice that they haven’t accorded ARI scholars even the modicum of attention it would take to look at their work long enough to spot corrections to errors that pop into their own work.
By the time Gladstein published the essay quoted here, she was full author of a reference book on Ayn Rand (even revising the book for its second edition years prior to publication of the essay in the volume edited by Younkins) and a book about a Rand novel, and was co-editor of a collection of essays about Ayn Rand. All four of these books preceded the Younkins volume into print by several years. Gladstein has been a contributor to a periodical called Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. I’m wondering what kind of Ayn Rand studies there are that don’t entail knowing the facts about her that are material to what the author is purporting.
Might some of the authors who have promulgated the false story be held partially innocent, on the grounds that they never came across any indication that conflicting information exists? That excuse is not available to Gladstein. In her year 2000 book about Atlas Shrugged, she wrote of the name-from-typewriter story that it was an “explanation with some currency,” then went on to report that in “a May 1997 story in Impact, the newsletter of the Ayn Rand Institute, there is reference to archival materials that suggest that Alisa Rosenbaum had selected her professional name before she left Russia. The article cites letters from family in Russia that refer to the name ‘Rand’ before Alisa wrote back from America. … A 1926 letter from her sister Nora has clever drawings of the name ‘Ayn Rand’ up in ‘lights.’ When the Cyrillic spelling of her name is studied, one finds resemblances to both the names ‘Ayn’ and ‘Rand.’” (pg. 7) (Click here for more about the Cyrillic spelling of her name)
Even after learning that an alternative theory existed on how Ayn Rand came to choose her name, the scholar in question didn’t investigate the two theories at hand to see which one might be eliminated as factually impossible. Seven years after publishing the passage quoted in the above paragraph, she was back to repeating the name-by-typewriter story (previously reported by her in her 1999 New Ayn Rand Companion book). I don’t work a short walk away from a college library as college professors do, yet I was able to get to a library where I could search for, find, read and copy the historic newspapers excerpted on this web page. Why didn’t the professors do so?
It is my hope that this page will stop others from carrying on the bad tradition of repeating the unsupportable, unworkable story that Ayn Rand chose her name from having looked at the nameplate on a typewriter.
Sources and Notes:
Origin of inaccurate name-from-typewriter story: The Passion of Ayn Rand (Doubleday, 1986), pg. 71.
Ayn Rand’s Chicago arrival and departure timeframes: ibid, pgs. 62, 74. Ayn Rand by Jeff Britting (Overlook Duckworth, 2004) adds that Miss Rand’s arrival in the United States occurred February 19, 1926 (pg. 30), and that her registration at her first Hollywood residence occurred September 3, 1926 (pg. 33). Letters of Ayn Rand, ed. Michael Berliner (Dutton, 1995), pg. xix, although indicating only the month of Miss Rand’s relocation from Chicago to Los Angeles (September 1926), confirms the general timeframes of the other books.&nsbp; Assuming two days spent in land-based travel, a departure on September 1 would result in an arrival on September 3.
Britting’s book indicates that the ship which brought Ayn Rand to the United States was the De Grasse, a French ship. His book reproduces her ticket stub (pg. 31). The New York Times, February 18, 1926, pg. 47, listed the De Grasse among ships expected to arrive the following morning, completing its journey from Havre begun February 10. The February 20 edition of the same newspaper, pg. 17, carried a story titled “Fog, Rain and Snow Disorganize Harbor,” recounting problems in New York Harbor the prior day. “The Colombo of the Italian Navigation Company, the French liner de Grasse and the Royal Mail liner Araguaya were all compelled to anchor between Fire Island and the Ambrose Channel Lightship before dawn and to remain there until the fog began to lift at 3 P.M.,” the paper reported. Later in the story: “The Colombo and the De Grasse docked without incident.” On page 3 of that same February 20 edition of the Times, a story about a French professor began with the statement that he arrived on the De Grasse the previous day.
Ads identical and similar to those shown here appearing in other newspapers, other newspaper issues, and in magazines, 1927 to 1934: Ads in which the typewriters were advertised as Remington typewriters, without “Rand” as part of the typewriter names, even as the ads identified Remington Rand as the corporation behind the product, appeared in the three newspaper issues cited alongside the pictures above (dated 1929 and 1934), but also in the following: The Youth’s Companion, Apr 28, 1927, pg. 286; Hartford Courant, Nov 9, 1927, pg. 7; New York Times, Feb 15 1929, pg. 15; Washington Post, Mar 19 1929, pg. 11; Washington Post, Mar 26 1929, pg. 5; New York Times, Mar 28 1929, pg. 24; The Youth’s Companion, Apr 1929, pg. 223; Washington Post, Apr 9 1929, pg. 9; Washington Post, Apr 16 1929, pg. 9; Washington Post, Apr 23 1929, pg. 4; Chicago Daily Tribune, May 21 1929, pg. 16; Chicago Daily Tribune, May 28 1929, pg. 26; Washington Post, May 28 1929, pg. 14; Wall Street Journal, Jul 19 1929, pg. 5; Chicago Daily Tribune,Sep 30 1929, pg. 18; Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct 7 1929, pg. 20; Chicago Daily Tribune, Oct 28 1929, pg. 20; Washington Post, Nov 7 1929, pg. 8; Chicago Daily Tribune, Nov 11 1929, pg. 22; Washington Post, Nov 14 1929, pg. 10; New York Times, Nov 25, 1929, pg. 18; New York Times, Oct 22, 1933, pg. SM15; New York Times, May 20, 1934, pg. SM21; New York Times, Nov 4, 1934, pg. SM13; New York Times, Nov 20, 1934, pg. 3; New York Times, Dec 4 1934, pg. 3. A few of these are duplicates of the ads for which details are shown above (generally, these duplicates were placed in newspapers published in different cities), but mostly the ads listed in this footnote have different ad copy, even as they follow the pattern shown above of identifying the machine as a “Remington Noiseless Typewriter” while directing potential customers to contact “Remington Rand Business Service, Inc.” I never saw an ad prepared and/or paid for by Remington Rand during the years 1927 to 1946 on which the name “Rand” appeared as part of the name of any model of typewriter nor an ad which showed in the illustration(s) the name “Rand” on the body of any typewriter.
Opening of Ayn Rand’s first play: A photograph of the sign outside the theater, with Ayn Rand’s name on it, appears in Ayn Rand: a Sense of Life by Michael Paxton (Gibbs-Smith, 1998), pg. 97. The same photograph and information is also in the documentary film of the same name (available on DVD).
1931 to 1934 newspaper clippings shown are dated (from top to bottom) September 2, 1931; October 9, 1932; October 14, 1932; March 17, 1934; and August 6, 1934. The October 9, 1932, story is from The New York Times; all others from The Wall Street Journal.
Remington Rand-sponsored ads from 1939-1940: In addition to the ads from which details are shown on this web page, other publications which published ads sponsored by Remington Rand which show Remington (but not Rand) in the names of the typewriter models (and in illustrations of the machines themselves) but specify Remington Rand as the corporation behind the product, include the following: Chicago Daily Tribune, Dec 3 1939, pg. 12; Christian Science Monitor, Sep 28 1940, pg. 7; Los Angeles Times, Oct 21 1940, pg. 6. (The Los Angeles Times ad is a duplicate of the Hartford Courant ad shown among the illustrations on this page.)
Sears catalogues: Ancestry.com announced in December 2010 the inclusion on their site of full Sears catalogues for the years 1896 to 1993. These can be searched at home by anyone with an internet connection, enabling anyone to check the claims made on this web page.
World War II reduced advertising and production limitations: The 9% figure set by War Production Board is reported in The Wall Street Journal, January 3, 1944, pg. 6. Also reported therein: “The typewriters now in production are for the armed forces and some will be available to war industries on approved orders”. A New York Times story of November 6, 1942, pg. 31, indicates that the U.S. Government had difficulty buying enough typewriters for its needs. The Chicago Daily Tribune, December 6, 1942, pg. B7, reported that the U.S. Government released some models and types of typewriters for civilian sale after these units were determined to not fulfill Government needs.
Remington Rand ran ad in The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 1943, pg. 36, stating that “The Remington Rand organization was the first producer of large-calibre armor-piercing protectiles, used with such conspicuous success in the new high-velocity anti-tank guns in North Africa. The factory formerly devoted to the building of Remington Noiseless Typewriters produced the first of these shells, and to date, several million of them have been delivered. Today, every original Remington Rand factory, plus several new ones just completed, are producing solely for war.”
Earliest ads showing Remington Rand name on face of typewriters: the ad shown accompanying descriptive text is from New York Amsterdam News, December 20, 1947, pg. 3. An earlier ad, the earliest ad to show Remington Rand on a faceplate known to me, appeared in The New York Times September 30, 1947, on page 52. The December 20, 1947, ad shown above was chosen to appear on this web page instead of the September 30 ad because the earlier one would not reproduce well.
Gradual transition toward putting both names on the nameplates beginning 1947: The New York Times, Jan 2, 1948, pg. 43, carries an ad by Remington Rand discussing the company’s new “Remington KMC” typewriters; both New York Times, Sep 8, 1948, pg. 33, and Christian Science Monitor, Sep 8, 1948, pg. 7, carry the same Remington Rand ad headlined, “Remington Rand proudly presents the New Remington Electric De Luxe Typewriter” and featuring a large illustration of a typewriter on which the Remington Rand name is embossed near the paper carriage but only the Remington name appears in the embossed lettering directly above the alphanumeric keys.
Allan Gotthelf as preparer of indexes: Dr. Gotthelf is credited with preparing the indexes for the following anthologies of Ayn Rand essays (page number refers to the first page of the index, which is also that on which Gotthelf’s work is acknowledged): The Virtue of Selfishness (1964), pg. 147; and Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal (updated edition including “Wreckage of the Consensus” and “Requiem for Man”)(1967), pg. 343.
Allan Gotthelf quotation: Dr. Gotthelf spoke extemporaneously to program host Prodos. The quotation which appears here reflects trims made by me and clarifications made by Dr. Gotthelf, the latter in a response to me by email on September 16, 2010, after I had emailed him both my transcript of his original statement and the slightly-trimmed version I had prepared. Editing seemed in order, as at two points in the quoted passage, Gotthelf used one expression before correcting it to another. (Example: Dr. Gotthelf spoke “… held in a museum—in a library rather—in Hagley …”; I trimmed it to “held in a library in Hagley”) For clarity, I deleted the extraneous words so that the passage as shown here contains only his final word choices. The audio was unclear as to whether he said “their” or “her” in the passage “of course her name is not Ayn Remington” so I chose the word appropriate for the context. In offering clarifications, Dr. Gotthelf changed the passage about the Hagley library so that Hagley was no longer merely the name of the locale but also identified as the name of the library itself, with a further addition indicating the proxity to Wilmington (a city never mentioned when he spoke on radio); Dr. Gotthelf substituted “the rest of the ‘Remington Rand’ history” for the single-word referent “it” in “I left it as an uncertainty”; he spelled out the company names “Remington Typewriter and Rand Kardex” in the third sentence where he originally had the simpler-to-say “Remington and Rand”; he added the final sentence as a summary, where his extemporaneous remarks had no counterpart; and substituted simple connecting words to clarify syntactic relationships.
Biography magazine and photo of Margaret Mitchell: The photograph inappropriately identified as one of Ayn Rand is the same one that is used to illustrate a narrative about Mitchell in the documentary film The Making of a Legend: Gone With the Wind (a Turner Entertainment Presentation in association with Selznick Properties, Ltd., copyrighted by Elstree Ltd., 1988.), at 10 mins. 39 secs. into the program. The photograph also appears in the book Gone With the Wind as Book and Film (ed. Richard Harwell, Paragon House edition of a book originally published by University of South Carolina Press, 1983/1987) in a photo gallery appearing between pages 34 and 35. In a caption, it’s stated that the photo is of “Margaret Mitchell in her New York apartment shortly before publication of ‘Gone With the Wind.’ Kenneth Rogers of the ‘Atlanta Constitution’ photographed her with manuscript pages on the table.” A cropped version of the photo, showing the face but not hands nor typewriter, adorns the cover of Southern Daughter: the Life of Margaret Mitchell (Darden Asbury Pyron, Oxford University Press, 1991). The photo gallery within the book has a photo of Mitchell almost certainly photographed at the same session: she’s in the same dress and at the same typewriter, manuscript pages again plentiful.
Mimi Reisel Gladstein writings: the reference book mentioned to have been issued in original and revised form is The Ayn Rand Companion (1984) and (its revised version) The New Ayn Rand Companion, Revised and Expanded Edition (1999); the volume about an Ayn Rand novel is Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto of the Mind (2000). The collection of essays co-edited by Gladstein is Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand (1999).
Quotation from Gladstein’s year 2000 book: Quotation is from the above-named Atlas Shrugged: Manifesto of the Mind. The ellipses mark where I excised her statement, “The article also cites a New York Evening Post story in which Rand reveals that fact.” The placement of this statement would refer to the fact about Rand’s family in Russia concerning their knowledge of her choosing the name “Rand” and mentioning it in mail they sent before receiving mail sent by Ayn from America. However, although the Impact article did have a mention of the New York Evening Post, what it reported therein was that Ayn Rand had told the newspaper that Rand is an abbreviation of her Russian name; Gladstein misidentifies the referent where she says “Rand reveals that fact.”
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