Wisconsin Library Heritage Center

The Wisconsin Library Heritage Center is a program of the Wisconsin Library Association Foundation promoting understanding and appreciation of the history of libraries and librarianship in Wisconsin.

Lutie Stearns and the Woman's Congress at Tower Hill, WI

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, March 01, 2012 in Events


This article was also posted on The Library History Buff Blog.   

For Women's History Month I thought I would post a story about Lutie Stearns, one of Wisconsin's greatest library pioneers. As often happens, a piece of postal librariana was the stimulus for my engaging in some library history research. I was delighted when I researched a picture postcard depicting the Ann Mitchell Library at Tower Hill, Wisconsin (shown above) to find that there was a link between Tower Hill and Lutie Stearns. Tower Hill is now the Tower Hill State Park, but was originally the summer retreat of Jenkin Lloyd Jones, a prominent Unitarian minister. As is explained in the first issue of La Follette's Weekly Magazine (January 9, 1909), Jones sponsored an annual Woman's Congress at Tower Hill. The guests at the Woman's Congress were limited to twenty-five invited individuals, and the speakers and topics for the Congress were selected by a committee which Lutie Stearns chaired for several years. Stearns at the time was on the staff of the Wisconsin Free Library Commission which she helped to found in 1891. In addition to her advocacy for free public libraries and traveling libraries, Stearns was an outspoken advocate for women and their role in society. Library Journal (October, 1916) reported on on a Library Congress held at Tower Hill in August of 1916. This Congress was also chaired by Lutie Stearns. Librarians from Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and North Dakota participated in this informal gathering to discuss library issues and to relax. It is in that Library Journal article which was written by Stearns that mention is made of the Ann Mitchell Library.  It notes that: "The afternoons during the week were given over to informal conferences and visits to the Ann Mitchell Library building on the Tower Hill grounds, which was found to be well supplied with the classics as well as the better part of latter-day literature." I have been unable to determine the identity of Ann Mitchell. Jones was a promoter of women in the ministry so perhaps she was a minister. The library and the building that housed it no longer exist. I also have a blog post about Lutie's speech impediment and her proposal for a book wagon. I highly recommend a book about Lutie for young people titled Books in a Box.


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Popular Tags

Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Klaus Linderfelt buil Public libraries Hall of Fame 2015 Academic Libraries Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Hall of Fame 2011 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Jane K. Billings 22 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries membership libraries background Special libraries Ripon Public Library state historical society Bookmobiles cam Wayne A. Wiegand Library people American Library Association Library War Service Campaign John Miller Chancellor Library Artifacts Richard E. Krug library memorabilia Milwaukee Public Library Manitowoc Public Library Lutie Eugenia Stearns Wisconsin Free Library Commission Campaign Hall of Fame 2012 Capitol Fire 1904 Hall trav library education Katharine MacDonald Jones School of Library and Information Studies Black River Falls Public Library traveling libraries Hall of Fame 2016 Anniversaries Cornelia Marving Pierce WLA 125 Gilbert H. Doane McMillan Memorial Library Library Buidlings Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Postcards National Bookmobile Day Ruth Ann Montgomery Wisconsin Library Bulletin Library e Cooperative Children's Book Center Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee Clinton Public Library Public libraries Hall of Fame 2015 28 campaign Milwaukee Art Museum School libraries DeForest Area Public Library Woman's Congress Eager Free Public Library Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Pinback buttons Appleton Public Library Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide State Law Library Delia Ovitz Marketing-Publicity Frank Avery Hutchins Library Buildings Carl Spitzweg Postcards WAAL Dianne McAfee Hopkins White House Conference on Library and Information Services S. Janice Kee Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Publications World War I Anniversaries Wisconsin Rapids Ice Storm Black River Falls Hall of Fame 2009 Brown County Library library legislation James Duane Doty Hall fo Fame 2012 Lutie Stearns hall of campa Rusk County Community Library Oshkosh Public Library Hall of Fame 2015 campaign Uncategorized COLAND Sarah Janice Kee Centennial Wisconsin Library Heritage Center WHCLIS CCBC Portage Public Library Dorothea M. Krause Campaign Hall of Fame 2008 Clarence Brown Lester ca WLA 125 10 WLA 125 Library people Postcards Amer James Huff Stout Brown Deer Public Library Middleton Public Library 11 Jerome P. Daniels Council on Library and Network Development Pewaukee Public Library Peter G. Hamon caly film Matthew S. Dudgeon Gerald A. Somers WWI Library War Service Wisconsin Free Library Commission Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends 23 Larry T. Nix Hartford Public Library Wisconsin State Law Library 21 T. B. Scott Free Public Library books-by-mail WLA 125 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Public library systems National Library Week Events caly film Hall of Fame 2012 I Love Libraries Zona Gale Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Bernard Schwab Events & Meetings Hall of Fame 2015 Academic Librarians 24 William J. Wilson People Hall of Fame 2010 Beloit Public Library caly film presentations Library celebrations Hall of Fame 2013 20 14 Cam Eratus Swift Wilcox Orrilla Blackshear Elroy Public Library Tower Hill Wisconsin Hall of Fame 2014 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Buttons Brown Deer Public Library Exhibits Digital Collections Parcel post UW-Milwaukee Libraries Historical Register UW-Madison school of library and information studies Postcards Hall of Fame 2015 library exhibit Library Systems Library People anniversaries bookworm 27 UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Gertrude Thurow Library Trustees Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library Events & Meetings Superior Carnegie Libraries Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends J. D. Witter Milwaukee Public Library Charles Bunge Increase A. Lapham American Library Association bed and breakfast campaign Evansville Wisconsin Library History Irene W. Newman Soughton Public Library archives Hall of Fame 2012 Inform Wisconsin Nolan I. Neds Edward Asahel Birge Beaver Dam Public Library Meter mail slogans Wisconsin Historical Society Wisconsin Library Association Carnegie libraries Suring Area Public Library Madison Public Library

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo