In January, 1867, Henry Bill, a successful business-owner in nearby Norwich, contacted prominent members of the Ledyard community and gave notice that it was his desire to establish a free library for his “native town.”
Through the generous donations of books and funds from Henry Bill and his brothers, Ledyard and Gurden, the Bill Library opened Monday, October 7, 1867, with approximately 1,000 books housed in custom-made bookcases installed in the Congregational Church.
A New Library Building
Eventually, the small library in the Congregational Church became inadequate, and plans to build a new library building, separate from the church, was planned. With $3,000 donated by Henry Bill and his brothers, and land donated by Henry Bill, the new building was built on the “Common” across from the Congregational Church. The new Bill Library was dedicated on September 13, 1893, during the annual meeting.and dinner of the trustees of the Bill Library Association.
The original building was expanded in 1971 and again in 1982, and is still located at 718 Colonel Ledyard Highway. The library collection contains over 67,000 volumes, and circulates nearly 165,000 items a year to a population of 15,000 residents.
Born in Groton, Connecticut on May 18, 1824, it was Henry Bill’s desire to “leave a permanent testimonial of [his] great regard for [his] native town,” and so established the Ledyard Library Association with an initial donation of $1,000.
Henry Bill died August 14, 1891, and is buried in the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich, Connecticut.
Edmund Spicer, born January 11, 1812, was the first Librarian of the Bill Library Association (1867 to 1890). He died May 1, 1890, and is buried in the Spicer Cemetery in Ledyard, Connecticut.
Sadie Elizabeth Main
Sadie Elizabeth Main born March 13, 1870, daughter to John L Main and Phoebe Frink Main. She married Herbert Richardson (1856-1930) in 1891. Sadie Elizabeth Main died December 18, 1940 and is buried in the Pachaug Cemetery in Griswold, New London County, Connecticut.
Pre-1937 Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Library Card N.641, Issued to Alberto Sorani
Established as a result of the March 29, 1925, Conference of Fascist Culture (“Convegno degli istituti fascisti di cultura”) at Bologna, Italy, The Fascist Institute of Culture (“Istituto Fascista di Cultura”) was responsible for the “protection, dissemination and development of the ideals and doctrine of fascism within and abroad, and of Italian culture in general.”
In 1941, the Institute claimed over 210,000 members.
Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944), the architect of the Manifesto of the Fascist Intellectuals (“Manifesto degli Intellettuali del Fascismo”), and ardent supporter of Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, was the founder and first President of the Institute (later known as the National Institute of Fascist Culture (“Istituto nazionale di cultura fascista”). Gentile served as President of the Institute until 1937, during which time he was Scientific Director and an editor of La Treccani, the Italian Encyclopedia of Sciences, Letters and Arts (“L’Enciclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti”), a 37 volume encyclopedia set, produced from 1925 to 1937. Appendices to the set are still available, the last being published in 2018.
Giovanni Gentile was assassinated in Florence, Italy, on April 15, 1944 by Gappista commandos (Italian Communist Party) for his fascist theories and commitment to Mussolini’s fascist dictatorship.
Benito Mussolini, his mistress, Claretta Petacci, Goffredo Coppola, Giovanni Gentile’s successor, and 16 other fascist leaders, were executed on April 28, 1945, by the National Liberation Committee (CLN) (“Il Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale”), an organization comprised of members of the main political parties and movements of Italy. The execution of Mussolini effectively ended the fascist dictatorship of Italy..
1930s H. C. Farrow Drug Stores Lending Library Ticket No. 6
The H. C. Farrow Drug Stores
The H.C. Farrow Drug Store, operated by Harold Claude Farrow (1900-1971), was located at 139 High Street, Isle of Sheppey, Sheerness-on-Sea, Kent, England, during the 1930s,.
Prior to the Public Libraries Act of 1850, libraries in England were mostly privately-funded institutions that allowed access through membership or subscription fees. Costly membership fees often precluded those with insufficient means from using early libraries.
A solution to this problem came by way of lending libraries. Often a small room or a shelf in a local business, church or school, lending libraries offered the general public a means for borrowing books in localities that were without public libraries.
Pre-1954 Library of Hawaii Borrower’s Card No. M 8144 issued to Mrs. Margaret B. Jennings
Library of Hawaii
The Library of Hawaii, had its official beginning in 1909, when on April 17th of that year, the Territorial Governor of Hawaii, Walter Francis Frear (1863-1948), signed House Bill No. 143, Act 83, entitled “An Act to provide for the establishment and maintenance of the Library of Hawaii.” 1
Prior to the passing of the Bill, Governor Frear met with Andrew “Andy” Carnegie to discuss Carnegie’s offer of $100,000 to build a new public library building. By selling the property at the corner of Alakea and Hotel Streets, which was occupied by the The Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association (a membership library established in 1879), the proceeds of the sale would aid in the establishment of the proposed public circulating library. In addition, the Association’s 20,000 volume inventory would be transferred to the proposed public library.2
The Carnegie Library
In May 1910, it was announced that New York architect, Henry Davis Whitfield, Andrew Carnegie’s brother-in-law, was chosen to design the new library, and Honolulu architect, Henry Livingstone Kerr, would supervise the construction of the building.3 Whitfield, who also designed Eaton Hall at Tufts University (1908) and the Federal Building in Hilo, Hawaii (1915), was considered at the time to be the world’s foremost expert on library design, having already designed many of the larger Carnegie libraries. Kerr designed over 900 buildings in Hawaii, including Honolulu’s historic McCandless Building (1906) and the Yokohama Specie Bank Building (1910).
Construction of the new Library building began on Saturday, October 21, 1911, when a two by three foot by twenty inch ironstone cornerstore, inscribed “Library of Hawaii, 1911,”4 was laid by members of the Hawaiian Lodge during an elaborate ceremony officiated by the Masons.
The Library Opens
On February 1, 1913, the Library of Hawaii opened to the public with much enthusiasm. Governor Frear, the recipient of Card No. 1, was issued the first book, “The Government of Our Cities,” by W. B. Munro, by the Librarian,Miss Allyn. A free concert by the Hawaiian Band, and speeches by Chairman A. Lewis, Jr., of the Library Board, and Prof. M. M. Scott of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association proceeded the official opening of the doors to the public.5
The two-story Mediterranean Revival style building located at 478 South King Street in Honolulu, was fronted by the signature Carnegie columns. Inside, patrons were greeted by an airy and spacious front delivery area, separate children’s area, catalogue, reading and reference rooms. A lanai reading room, and separate lecture, study, and children’s story rooms were located on the second floor In addition to the new library building, a traveling library was instituted to ensure citizens on islands other than O’ahu would have access to the new public service.6
In 1927, much needed renovations to expand the building were approved by the territory legislature. Two wings were added to the original building, as well as an open-air courtyard in the middle.
In 1978, the building was designated a historic site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Library of Hawaii is now part of the Hawaii State Public Library System, which is comprised of fifty-one libraries on all of the major islands. The library system contains over 3 million books and reference materials.
Margaret B. Jennings
Margaret Bronson Jennings (1924-2018) born February 15, 1924 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was an LSU fan and a member and officer of the Krewe of Attakapas.
Sources:  The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, April 17, 1909, page 2;  The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, March 26, 1909, page 4;  The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 21, 1910, page 5;  The Hawaiian Star, Honolulu, Hawaii, October 16, 1911, page 8;  The Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 1, 1913, page 10;  The Sunday Advertiser, Honolulu, Hawaii, February 2, 1913, page 10.
Pre-1937 San Diego Public Library Borrower’s Card No. 75273 issued to Lee R. Moore
San Diego Public Library
Opened to the public on July 15, 1882, the San Diego Public Library’s first location was the Commercial Bank building (aka the Consolidated National Bank) at 5th and G Streets. The use of rooms on the 2nd floor2 was provided to the library non gratis for the first six month,1 after which rent was paid from the $650 city appropriation.
In 1893, the library was moved once again to the fashionable St. James Building at 7th and F Streets and would remain there for at least five years.3
By 1898, the library began to outgrow its accommodations, so arrangements were made for space on the 4th floor of the new Keating Building at Fifth and F Streets. Rent increased from $50 to $85, but the rooms were more spacious and well-lit, and a modern elevator made access to the library much easier.4 The Keating Building was designed by George J. Keating, founder of a farm equipment company, and built in 1890 by his wife, Fannie, after his death on June 25, 1888.
While the Keating Building provided adequate square footage to accommodate the growing library, library space had been a concern several years prior to the move into the Keating Building. Efforts to raise funds for the building of a permanent home large enough to house the growing library was undertaken by the Ladies’ Wednesday Club as early as 1896.5. But it wasn’t until mid-1899, that a new library building became a realistic goal. In response to a letter sent to the Andrew Carnegie Corporation by library trustee, Mrs. Lydia K. Horton, in which she asked for photographs of previously built Carnegie libraries in hopes that the photographs would spark interest by her fellow trustees, the Carnegie Corporation promised a $50,000 grant to build the first Carnegie library west of the Mississippi River.6 On April 23, 1902, the new library building opened at Eighth and E Streets. The building designed by architects, Ackerman & Ross of New York, had room for 75,000 volumes and boasted a museum, art gallery, and lecture room. The Carnegie Library building would serve as the main library until 1952 when the building was razed to allow the construction of a new, modernized building. The new library opened at the same location on June 27, 1954. The current location of the San Diego Central Library is 330 Park Blvd. in San Diego.
San Diego Public Library and Comic-Con
Since 2013, the San Diego Public Library has partnered with Comic-Con and designed limited-edition comic-themed library cards, which are only available at the San Diego Public Library booth at the yearly Comic-Con convention in San Diego. The 2019 card, of which only 3,000 were made available, features Waldo over an image of the San Diego Central Library, which is located at 330 Park Boulevard in San Diego.
Lee R. Moore
Lee Reed Moore was born August 7, 1921, in Kansas City; He was the son of Lee R. Moore, Sr of Texas and Orpha Moore. Lee R. Moore was a salesman for Ryan Aeronautical Co. He died on April 29, 1980.
1 Catalog of the San Diego Free Public Library: Compiled by the Order of the Board of Trustees, by Lulu Younkin, April 1889
2 The Record (National City, California), June 11, 1885, p. 2
3 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) April 5, 1893, p. 7
4 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) April 7, 1898, p. 13
5 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), December 7, 1896, p. 5
6 The Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California), July 18, 1899, p. 15
1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren
According to The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, published in 1882, Pickering, Missouri, located in the northwest region of Missouri, was home to about 200 residents in 1882. The town of Pickering was incorporated in 1879. While many businesses were developed in Pickering’s early days, there is no evidence that a public library was ever established. However, The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, references a circulating library (p. 674) and a library association (p. 682). The current population of Pickering is approximately 160, according to the 2010 census.
John W. Harman
John W. Harman (1842-1892) came to Pickering in 1872. In addition to being the secretary and librarian of the “circulating library” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 674). Harman was the Pickering station railroad agent, a hotel keeper, grain inspector, and postmaster, as well as a member and officer of A. F. & A. M. (Ancient Free and Accepted Masons) Lodge No. 473. Harman died of “consumption” in 1892. He is buried at the Mount Mora Cemetery in St. Joseph, Missouri.
Miles Wallis (born 3-10-1810-1903), a successful New York businessman and real estate dealer, came to Pickering in 1877, following his grandson, Dr. William M. Wallis, who settled in Pickering in 1872. Miles Wallis was the proprietor of the Pickering Hotel and served as the Mayor of Pickering. He was a co-founder and President of the “Library Association” (see The History of Nodaway County, Missouri, p. 682), and a generous contributor of “forty volumes of ‘standard works.'” Miles Wallis is buried at the Oak Hill Cemetery in Maryville, Missouri. The inscription on his gravestone reads: “93 years, 11 months, 6 days.”
J. J. Van Buren
A lifelong Missourian, and longtime resident of Pickering, James Jackson Van Buren was born November 23, 1849, in Savannah, Missouri. In 1879, Van Buren opened the town blacksmith business. Van Buren died October 17, 1926, and is buried at the Coleman Cemetery in Pickering, Missouri.
1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Reminder Mailing Card addressed to Mrs. A. Link
Bangkok Library Association
In 1869, the Ladies’ Bazaar Association, a charitable organization of English-speaking women living in Bangkok, Siam, founded the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association to provide much-needed English-language books to the growing number of English-speaking residents of Bangkok. Bangkok, called “the key to Siam,” became home to many English-speaking missionaries and British trade agents during the reign of King Rama IV, due to trade agreements and Western expansionism.
In the beginning, the small subscription library was open one day a week and staffed by volunteers. The library contents were housed in private homes and later the vestry of the Protestant Union Chapel.
The library’s name changed to Bangkok Library Association in October 1911.
Jennie Neilson Hays
Jennie Neilson Hays was born on September 19, 1859, in Aalborg, Denmark. As a Protestant Missionary, Miss Neilson arrived in Bangkok, Siam, in October 1884. In 1885, Miss Nelson began her relationship with the Bangkok Ladies’ Library Association conducting benefits for raising funds and assisting in library duties. Jennie Nelson Hays served as the Librarian of the Bangkok Library Association until her death of Cholera on April 26, 1920.
In a letter from the American Consulate, dated May 20, 1920, Carl C. Hanson, the American Vice-Consul in Charge, reported the death of Mrs. Hays to the Secretary of State of the United States, Bainbridge Colby.
The letter read:
Death of an American Citizen
Mrs. Jennie Neilson Hays
I have the honor to enclose herewith a report of the death of an American citizen, Mrs. Jennie Nelson Hays, the wife of Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, now living in Bangkok. Mrs. Hays always took the leading part on all occasions connected with public welfare and was well known for her charitable work. His Majesty the King of Siam sent a special message of condolences to Dr. Hays, and by the King’s command, a royal wreath was placed on the grave of Mrs. Hays.
I have the honor to be Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Carl C. Hanson
American Vice Consul in Charge
After her death, Mario Tamagno, an Italian architect, was commissioned by her husband, Dr. Thomas Heyward Hays, to design a permanent home for the library on Surawong Road. The Neilson-Hays Library, a then state-of-the-art Neo-classical building, opened to the public on June 26, 1922.
Jennie and her husband, Thomas, are buried at the Bangkok Protestant Cemetery.
Lady Marion Maria Winifred Crozier Williamson served as President of the Bangkok Library Association.
Maria Crozier was born on October 21, 1875, in the former British territory of Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, India. There she married Walter James Franklin Williamson on August 15, 1894. Sir Williamson was financial counsel to the government of Siam and later, a financial expert at the League of Nations. Sir and Lady Williamson are also known for the contribution to the ornithological community. Sir Williamson was a noted ornithologist whose collection is incorporated into the British Museum of National History. Lady Williamson is the namesake of the Indochinese Bush Lark species mirafra assamica marionae. Lady Williamson died on May 30, 1945, in London, England.
Mrs. A. Link
Erma Link was the wife of Adolf Link, a partner of B. Grimm & Co., importers, and merchants. Adolf Link joined B. Grimm & Co. as a manager in 1903. Under Adolf Link’s management, B. Grimm & Co. grew rapidly. However, at the outbreak of World War I, Siam joined allied forces and declared war on Germany. In February 1918, Siam’s government designated all German residents as enemies of the state. Consequently, Siam’s government seized the Link family’s possessions and placed the family in an internment camp in India. After World War I, the Links returned to Siam, but World War II resulted in house arrest. Despite the effects of the World Wars on the company, B. Grimm continues its 150-year history with Thailand, now operated by a 4th generation Link family. member
1924 Winnipeg Public Lending Department and Non-Fiction Library Cards No. 22501 Issued to Robert Walls
Winnipeg Public Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The Winnipeg Public Library had its beginning as a circulating library at the Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba. In 1888, due to the disabling costs of maintaining their library, the Society transferred their 3,000 volume circulating library to the city and was renamed The City Library. It was the intent of the Society for the transfer to become “the nucleus” for a new public library [from The Historical and Scientific Society of Manitoba Annual Report published 1888, p. 8].
Contrary to local gossip, it was not a free library. A news article in the Manitoba Free Press on February 25, 1888, sought to dispel the rumor, stating that the new library would continue to charge a $2 yearly membership fee to use the library.
In July 1901, Andrew Carnegie Corporation began negotiations with the city of Winnipeg to fund a new library building. Conditions for funding a new library building were that the city would purchase a suitable site for the library and guarantee annual upkeep at a sum equal to 10% of the amount donated by the Corporation. By August 1902, the city purchased a site at William and Dagmar Streets for $12,200. In early November 1902, the Corporation released the funds for building the library, and on November 22, 1902, through an announcement in local newspapers, local architects were invited to submit designs for the new library. In July 1903, Architect Samuel Hooper, and builders Smith & Sharpe were chosen for the tasks.
On November 3, 1903, Sir Daniel McMillan (1846-1933), Lieutenant-Governor of Manitoba, laid the library cornerstone, and on October 13, 1905, the library opened to the public.
In 1977, the Centennial Library (now known as the Millennium Library) was built at 251 Donald Street and the Carnegie building became a branch library, and subsequently, the City of Winnipeg Archives in 1995. In 2013, the city began renovations to the Carnegie building, but due to serious damage sustained during a heavy rainstorm, the renovations were halted and the archive collections relocated. The building currently stands empty and its future is unknown.
Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday
Martin Memorial Library, York, Pennsylvania
Located at the corner of Market and Queen Streets since 1935, the library had its beginning in 1912 when Milton D. Martin, a local businessman, bequeathed $125,000 for the construction of a public library and another $20,000 to be held in trust for the maintenance of that library. Appointed Board members felt the sum too little to adequately provide for the library. Over the next two decades, legal issues hampered the establishment of the library, including whether to levy a tax on citizens, the library location, and whether the city could legally maintain the library. Public patience wore thin. The citizens presented petitions in favor of the library at public hearings, and letters to the editor questioned whether the “supposed” public library would ever exist. Eventually, the Board resolved all legal issues, and in September 1934, L. Reinholder & Son won the contract for constructions and interior shelving. On November 1, 1935, the long-awaiting Martin Memorial Library opened and hosted over 2,600 visitors on its first day, 480 of which became registered users. Architect Frederick G. Dempwolf designed the brick and limestone Pennsylvania Colonial-style building. The library has been in continuous use since 1935.
Milton D. Martin
Milton D. Martin (November 23, 1859-December 31, 1912) was a prominent York business owner and local benefactor. Along with his father, Hiram, he manufactured buggies, carriages, and sleighs through the late 1800s. Although Hiram Martin & Son went bankrupt in 1888, Milton D. Martin later opened Martin Carriage Works of York, which eventually had upwards of 500 employees. In 1909, at the dawn of the electric car, Martin transformed his factory into an automobile and truck manufacturer.
In addition to his manufacturing businesses, he was President of the Guardian Trust Company of York, and a benefactor and Director of the York Hospital, to which he contributed funds to build an improved operating room.
Upon his death, Milton D. Martin bequeathed $125,000 for the construction of a public library and another $20,000 to be held in trust for the maintenance of that library. His kindness was extended to his housekeeper of many years, leaving her $8,000, which today equals approximately $200,000.
1906 The Mullin Free Library for Boys Membership Card No. 376 issued to William J. Johnson
The Mullin Free Library for Boys
The Mullen Free Library for Boys was a free library for patrons of Haberdasher, Tailor and Clothier, J. Charles Mullin’s clothing store located at 28-32 West Gay Street in West Chester, Pennsylvania during the early 1900s. If a suit or overcoat was purchased at the store, the boy would receive a membership card that entitled him to use of the free library.
J. Herbert Mullin
James Herbert Mullin (1872-1941) was a West Chester native. He was educated at the Rugby Academy and Friends School. Like his father, James Torbert Mullin, and brother, James Strickland Mullin, he was West Chester clothier. Joining his brother at Mullin & Loomis (established with Esau Loomis), they operated a successful clothing store at 28-32 W. Gay Street. In addition, James Herbert Mullin was a patron of the arts, and promoted music concerts in West Chester.