Andrew Carnegie

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Andrew Carnegie : biography

November 25, 1835 – August 11, 1919

As Van Slyck (1991) showed, the last years of the 19th century saw acceptance of the idea that free libraries should be available to the American public. But the design of the idealized free library was the subject of prolonged and heated debate. On one hand, the library profession called for designs that supported efficiency in administration and operation; on the other, wealthy philanthropists favored buildings that reinforced the paternalistic metaphor and enhanced civic pride. Between 1886 and 1917, Carnegie reformed both library philanthropy and library design, encouraging a closer correspondence between the two.Abigail A. VanSlyck, "’The Utmost Amount of Effectiv [Sic] Accommodation’: Andrew Carnegie and the Reform of the American Library," Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (1991) 50#4 pp 359-383 .

He gave $2 million in 1901 to start the Carnegie Institute of Technology (CIT) at Pittsburgh and the same amount in 1902 to found the Carnegie Institution at Washington, D.C. He later contributed more to these and other schools. CIT is now part of Carnegie Mellon University. Carnegie also served on the Board of Cornell University.

In 1911, Carnegie became a sympathetic benefactor to George Ellery Hale, who was trying to build the 100 inch (2.5 m) Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson, and donated an additional ten million dollars to the Carnegie Institution with the following suggestion to expedite the construction of the telescope: "I hope the work at Mount Wilson will be vigorously pushed, because I am so anxious to hear the expected results from it. I should like to be satisfied before I depart, that we are going to repay to the old land some part of the debt we owe them by revealing more clearly than ever to them the new heavens." The telescope saw first light on November 2, 1917, with Carnegie still alive.Simmons, Mike (1984). . Mount Wilson Observatory Association (MWOA).

In Scotland, he gave $10 million in 1901 to establish the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. It was created by a deed which he signed on June 7, 1901, and it was incorporated by Royal Charter on August 21, 1902. The Trust was funded by a gift of $10 million (a then unprecedented sum: at the time, total government assistance to all four Scottish universities was about £50,000 a year) and its aim was to improve and extend the opportunities for scientific research in the Scottish universities and to enable the deserving and qualified youth of Scotland to attend a university. He was subsequently elected Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews. He also donated large sums of money to Dunfermline, the place of his birth. In addition to a library, Carnegie also bought the private estate which became Pittencrieff Park and opened it to all members of the public, establishing the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust to benefit the people of Dunfermline. A statue of him stands there today. He gave a further $10 million in 1913 to endow the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust, a grant-making foundation.

Carnegie also established large pension funds in 1901 for his former employees at Homestead and, in 1905, for American college professors. The latter fund evolved into TIAA-CREF. One critical requirement was that church-related schools had to sever their religious connections to get his money.

His interest in music led him to fund construction of 7,000 church organs. He built and owned Carnegie Hall in New York City.

Carnegie was a large benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute under Booker T. Washington for African-American education. He helped Washington create the National Negro Business League.

He founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the United States and Canada in 1904 (a few years later also established in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, and Germany) for the recognition of deeds of heroism. Carnegie contributed $1,500,000 in 1903 for the erection of the Peace Palace at The Hague; and he donated $150,000 for a Pan-American Palace in Washington as a home for the International Bureau of American Republics.