Carnegie Libraries in New Jersey: 1900-1923

Eleonora Dubicki


A free public library is the cornerstone of most American communities. Libraries offer a variety of far-reaching services, ranging from books for self-education and leisure reading, to informational and cultural programs. Carnegie libraries constructed in the early 1900s through the philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie played a significant role in transforming the library movement from subscription libraries for special interest groups to free public libraries with services accessible by all. Of the 1,412 communities in the United States to build Carnegie libraries, twenty-nine communities in New Jersey benefitted from this program. This research project draws primarily on original correspondence between New Jersey communities seeking library building funds and Andrew Carnegie. The letters supporting funding applications create a unique demographic and economic snapshot of New Jersey communities during the early 1900s when the Carnegie libraries were erected in the state. This study offers historical insights and informs the role that the Carnegie libraries played in their respective communities.

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