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 Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo