Nashville Library Association, Nashville, Tennessee

Pre-1873 Nashville Library Association Legislator’s Ticket issued to W. M. Beek

Pre-1873 Nashville Library Association Legislator’s Ticket issued to W. M. Beek (front) (back blank)

Nashville Library Association

On May 13, 1871, the Committee on Organization published an article in the Nashville Union and American calling on the citizens of Nashville, Tennessee to come together to “consider a project of [no] deeper interest or importance” than to organize a public library “to advance the material progress of the people.”  By June 1871, there was a membership of 300, and on July 4th, the central room of the State Bank Building at Union and Cherry was secured rent-fee as the location of the library.  A yearly fee of $5 was instituted (approx. $150 today), as well as lifetime and honorary memberships at higher rates.  The library was available to men and women from 8am-10pm, Monday through Saturday. The citizenry of Nashville was encouraged to donate books and publications to fill the shelves before opening day.  Dr. D. H. Rains was engaged as Librarian. On September 11, 1871, the Nashville Library Association (NLA) opened its doors to the public with more than 3,000 mostly-donated volumes on the shelves.  For the next four years, the NLA would offer the lastest periodicals, newspapers and literature to their members, as well as lectures, concerts, poetry readings, spelling bees and more. 

Approx. 1881 photo of the Nashville Library Association at the State Bank Building on the corner of Cherry (now 4th) and Union Streets. (Building dismantled in 1882). Photographer: Rodney Poole (1837-1921). Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archives. THS Picture Collection, THS 193, Box A, Folder 13, ID No. 13930.
The Tennessean, Wednesday, November 8, 1871, Page 4

On July 2, 1875, the Tennessean newspaper reported that the NLA had leased the library to the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) for a term of three years.  As membership and attendance had been declining, the YMCA proposed contributing funds to relieve the NLA of certain debts, and would take full charge of the library to “resuscitate its dying energies.”  

In January 1882, the YMCA published their intentions in the Tennessean to return the management of the public reading room to the NLA “since those for whom it was intended do not care to sustain it.” The YMCA no longer deemed it wise to divert donations from YMCA supporters meant to “aid young men” to the continued support of a failing public reading room.  At the same time, the State Bank Building, built in 1838, was sold and dismantled stone-by-stone in February 1882. 

Advertisement for bids on materials from the demolition of the State Bank Building, former home of the Nashville Library Association. The Tennessean, Wednesday, January 11, 1882, Page 2
Announcement of new YMCA location. The Tennessean, Thursday, January 26 1882, Page 4

The YMCA took rooms at the Olympic Theater Building to continue service to their membership, and by December 1882, management of the library returned to the NLA; however, the library struggled to remain open.  In an article in the Tennessean newspaper dated December 28, 1882, R. A. Campbell, Secretary of the NLA, beseeched Nashville citizens to “cast your bread upon the waters” and support the public library.  There is no significant information as to the continued operation of the NLA after December 1882.

Pickering Library Association, Pickering, Missouri

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren

1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (front) 
1882 Pickering Library Association Dues Payment Receipt issued to J. J. Van Buren (back)

Pickering, Missouri

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

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.