A family odyssey from Civil War to Carfax

No company, no family has done more to track the trajectory of America and its people than R. L. Polk.

From the Civil War to the 21st century, from the railroads to the automobile to computers and cyberspace, R.L. Polk & Co. chronicled the movement of America’s people from east to west, from farms to cities, from pen-and-pencil to punch cards to gigabytes of data.

It all began after Ralph Lane Polk, a 15-year-old drummer boy on hand for the surrender at Appomattox in 1865, mustered out of the Union Army.

He set out on a life’s journey that would take him to Detroit, where he would launch a 4-generation family enterprise.

This is the story of that family and that company.

Much like the nation itself, the Polk family and the Polk business had their ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies.

And we’ll be going further in-depth on those ups and downs, triumphs and tragedies as we approach the release of our book in 2019!

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