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 Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Popular Tags

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

Wisconsin Library Association Foundation Logo