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.

Neenah's Carnegie

Posted by Larry Nix
Larry Nix
Larry Nix has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, February 10, 2009 in Carnegie libraries


Volume I of the History of Winnegago County Wisconsin by Publius V. Lawson (C. F. Cooper & Co., Chicago, 1908, page 474) recounts the story of how Neenah, Wisconsin got its Carnegie Library.

"Robert Shiells [former president of Neenah's subscription library] still kept up his interest in the work [of the library] and one day in 1904 wrote a letter to Andrew Carnegie suggesting that he furnish the funds for a library building in Neenah.  The reply was that a town with so much wealth could well build their own building.  Mr. Shiells replied, they were building public improvements, schools and churches, and therefore could with good grace call on Mr. Carnegie to furnish the library. But he still refused. There lives in Washington Mr. William R. Smith, the landscape gardener at the White House for the last fifty-five years.  He is a great student of Robert Burns, and of course a Scotchman.  He had gathered together a duplicate of the library used by Burns, many of them the very books used by Burns, and as near as possible the same editions.  Mr. Andrew Carnegie is a great friend of Mr. Smith, and spends many days each year at his home in Washington.  During this correspondence he was at the home of Mr. Smith, and asked him if he knew of a Scotchman out at Neenah, Wisconsin, named Robert Shiells.  He said he did not know him personally, but was well acquainted with him by his writing, and thought a great deal of him, and if  he ever went west he promised himself to call on Mr. Shiells.  Then Mr. Carnegie told of the correspondence.  Mr. Smith said, 'Why, Andy, you made a mistake; give Mr. Shiells his library.'  Then Mr. Carnegie replied, 'All right, Smith, I will do it.'  One day soon after, a little to his surprise, the letter came to Mr. Shiells offering the city $10,000, provided they would support it with $1,000 per annum.  The offer was accepted.  The citizens raised $15,000 in addition, of which Theda Clark gave $5,000 and the site where it is at present located.  It cost nearly $30,000."

The Carnegie building was razed to make way for the current Neenah Public Library building. The Friends of the Neenah Library are a Founding Contributor of the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center for which we are grateful.  


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

Leave your comment

Guest Monday, February 19, 2018


Popular Tags

Capitol Fire 1904 Public library systems presentations Association of Library Trustees Advocates and Friends Milwaukee Public Library hall of Parcel post WLA 125 state historical society Dianne McAfee Hopkins Soughton Public Library Lowell W. Wilson traveling libraries White House Conference on Library and Information Services Wisconsin Library Heritage Center 28 Pewaukee Public Library Hall Library History Governor's Conference on Library and Information Services Black River Falls S. Janice Kee Academic Libraries Lutie Eugenia Stearns library exhibit Clarence Brown Lester J. D. Witter Wisconsin Historical Society Cam campa Bernard Schwab Matthew S. Dudgeon Wayne A. Wiegand 11 Inform Wisconsin Hartford Public Library Jane K. Billings Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Marketing-Publicity library education library legislation Wisconsin Free Library Commission Publications UW-Milwaukee School of Information Studies Nolan I. Neds 14 Brown Deer Public Library Campaign Wisconsin State Normal School-Milwaukee WLA 125 Cornelia Marving Pierce T. B. Scott Free Public Library 22 21 Rusk County Community Library trav Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Library people Postcards background Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries Postcards Bookmobiles Richard E. Krug caly film buil Ruth Ann Montgomery bookworm 23 WWI Library War Service McMillan Memorial Library membership libraries Portage Public Library Sarah Janice Kee Carl Spitzweg Library people Hall of Fame 2012 archives Suring Area Public Library Elroy Public Library Carnegie libraries School of Library and Information Studies Public libraries I Love Libraries Peter G. Hamon Clinton Public Library Library People Brown Deer Public Library Public libraries Hall of Fame 2010 Wisconsin Library Association Library celebrations Gerald A. Somers Gertrude Thurow Kimberly-Little Chute Public Library caly film Pinback buttons Wilbur Lyle Eberhart Library Systems Hall of Fame 2016 Campaign Hall of Fame 2009 Eratus Swift Wilcox Wisconsin State Law Library campaign Wisconsin Library Trustees and Friends James Huff Stout Beloit Public Library Edward Asahel Birge 24 American Library Association John J. Jax Hall of Fame 2012 Amer Appleton Public Library Special libraries anniversaries Frank Avery Hutchins Historical Register Council on Library and Network Development Woman's Congress Superior Carnegie Libraries Klaus Linderfelt Hall of Fame 2015 Hall of Fame 2008 Hall of Fame 2017 Hall of Fame 2012 Hall fo Fame 2012 Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries books-by-mail Increase A. Lapham Madison Public Library Events & Meetings Library Trustees People Anniversaries Dorothea M. Krause Events & Meetings 20 Anniversaries Hall of Fame 2013 Centennial Campaing for Wisconsin Libraries Orrilla Blackshear Eager Free Public Library WAAL bed and breakfast Milwaukee Art Museum Library e Events Hall of Fame 2015 UW-Madison school of library and information studies Zona Gale Ripon Public Library Uncategorized 10 Ruby Roeder Katharine MacDonald Jones Library Buildings Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections Campaign for Wisconsin Libraries World War I Wisconsin Library Bulletin WHCLIS Oshkosh Public Library Larry T. Nix Wisconsin Literary Travel Guide UW-Milwaukee Libraries John Miller Chancellor Hall of Fame 2015 William J. Wilson Hall of Fame 2014 Hall of Fame 2015 Campaign Delia Ovitz Hall of Fame 2015 WLA 125 Jerome P. Daniels Ice Storm Tower Hill Wisconsin Charles Bunge Middleton Public Library Wisconsin Free Library Commission Black River Falls Public Library School libraries Hall of Fame 2011 Buttons Gilbert H. Doane Postcards Cooperative Children's Book Center American Library Association Library War Service Postcards Library Buidlings DeForest Area Public Library WLA 125 Beaver Dam Public Library campaign State Law Library campaign ca caly film James Duane Doty 27 Irene W. Newman cam CCBC National Bookmobile Day Lutie Stearns Marjorie Sornson Malmberg Sandra Friedman Dolnick Meter mail slogans library memorabilia National Library Week Academic Librarians Wisconsin Association of Academic Librarians Wisconsin Rapids Exhibits COLAND Louise S. Robbins Library Artifacts Brown County Library Manitowoc Public Library Evansville Wisconsin

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo