Bangkok Library Association, Bangkok, Siam

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Reminder Mailing Card addressed to Mrs. A. Link

1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (front)
1913 Bangkok Library Association Subscription Dues Mailing Card sent to Mrs. A. Link (back)
Close-up of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (from upper right corner)
1897 Stereoscope image of the Royal Coat of Arms of Siam (public domain)

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.  

Jennie Neilson Hays Passport Photo 1916

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

Sir:

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.

Mrs. Williamson

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

Cleveland Public Library, Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Library Card No. 4006 and Card Sleeve issued to Walter R. Miller

Cleveland Public Library Pre-1932 Library Card (front)
Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Library Card (back)
Cleveland Public Library Pre-1932 Card Sleeve (front)
Cleveland Public Library, Pre-1932 Card Sleeve (back)

Cleveland Public Library

In March 1867, a legislative statute was passed authorizing the Board of Education to tax the citizens of Cleveland for the purpose of funding a public library.  Housed on the third floor of the Northrup & Harrington Block on Superior Street, the library opened to the public on February 17, 1869, with approximately 2,000 books obtained from the public school library.  By August 1869, there were nearly 4,000 registered members.

Northrup & Harrington Building, Superior Street, Pre-1923 Public Domain Postcard

Between 1873 and 1879, the Library moved multiple times.  The Clark Building on Superior Street, the new City Hall, and the second and third floors of the old Central High School building on Euclid Avenue. 

In 1884, the Cleveland Public Library appointed William H. Brett as Head Library.  Brett, who was considered to be  one of the most influential librarians of the twenty century, introduced the then-novel idea of an “open shelf” system, whereby library members would have direct access to the books.  Brett served as Head Librarian until his untimely death in 1918.

William Howard Brett, Head Librarian of the Cleveland Public Library (1885-1911) (Public Domain)

In 1915, the Cleveland architectural firm, Walker and Weeks, won a competition to design a new library building, but due to the demands of World War I, construction was delayed until 1923.  Finally, in September 1925, the $4,000,000  classical Renaissance-style building opened its doors to the public.  

Cleveland Public Library, Superior Street, Pre-1923 Public Domain Postcard
Photo Erik Drost – photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en (no changes)

In 1997, the 10-story Louis Stokes Wing was dedicated and the main building underwent a $24 million renovation, including careful restoration of the original ceiling finishes,  original leather doors, exterior marble and historical light fixtures.  


The Louis Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Public Library.  The Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) June 12,1997, Page 75.

The Cleveland Public Library celebrated its 150-year anniversary in 2019.  Today, the Cleveland Public Library system has twenty-seven branch libraries.  

William H. Brett

William Howard Brett (1846-1918) was head librarian for the Cleveland Public Library from 1884 to 1918.  He is considered one of the “100 most important librarians of the 20th century”. Under Brett’s guidance, book circulation at the Cleveland Public Library went from 50,000 volumes in 1889 to over 3 million volumes in 1918, placing the library in the top three of the greatest libraries in the United States at that time.

Brett was known for introducing several new library management concepts that are still used today. While at the Cleveland Public Library, he instituted an “open shelf” concept whereby allowing library members to have direct access to library materials and the ability to browse and research independently. Another major contribution was “divisional arrangements.” Brett and his vice-librarian, Linda A. Eastman, divided the reference and circulating books into major categories and had dedicated staff handle each subject matter. Brett also championed separate children’s reading rooms believing that children deserved their own space.

Brett’s life and library career were cut short by a drunk driver in 1918.

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The Fletcher Public Library, Fletcher, Vermont

1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald

1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald (front)
1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald (back)

The Fletcher Public Library

The Fletcher Public Library opened on August 8, 1896, with an inventory of 110 volumes provided by the state of Vermont.   The library was located in the Fletcher Post Office and Mrs. C. Carpenter was the librarian.

Chartered in 1781, Fletcher, Vermont, is located in Franklin County in northwestern Vermont and currently has population of about 1,400 residents.

Havana Military Academy, Biblioteca Rafael Maria Mendive, Havana, Cuba

Pre-1960 Book Pocket and Book Card, Havana Military Academy, Biblioteca Rafael Maria Mendive

Pre-1960 Book Pocket with Book Card for Victor Hugo’s biography of William Shakespeare, Havana Military Academy, Biblioteca Rafael Maria Mendive
Pre-1960 Book Pocket, Havana Military Academy, Biblioteca Rafael Maria Mendive
Pre-1960 Book Card for Victor Hugo’s biography of William Shakespeare, Havana Military Academy, Biblioteca Rafael Maria Mendive

The Havana Military Academy, Havana, Cuba

The Havana Military Academy, founded by Raúl Chibás in 1947, before the Cuban Revolution, was an elite military-style boarding school on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba.

Advertisement for the 1953-1954 School Season of the Havana Military Academy,
Havana, Cuba

The 1947 Montreal Royals

Before opening to students in late 1947, the Academy famously hosted the Brooklyn Dodgers and their AAA farm team, the Montreal Royals for their 1947 spring training season. After having experienced racial harassment from white crowds in Daytona Beach during the 1946 spring training season due to the Royals integrated roster that included the first black minor league player, Jackie Robinson, management decided to change the location training location to Cuba after learning that baseball teams in Cuba had been integrated since the early 1900s. However, Jim Crow laws followed Robinson and the Royals to Havana. While the Dodgers stayed at the swank Hotel Nacional and the Royals at the brand new Havana Military Academy, Jackie Robinson and other African American teammates were given accommodations at a third-rate boarding house in downtown Havana. This unfair treatment didn’t deter Jackie Robinson from making baseball history. In the 1947 regular season, Jackie Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers and become the first African American major league baseball player in the history of American baseball, became the Rookie of the year, and helped the Dodgers go all the way to the 1947 World Series.

The Cuban Revolution of 1953

Before the Cuban Revolution, Cuban politics were rife with corruption, dictatorships, and episodic American intervention and interference. The Cuban economy, at times robust due to the growing exports of sugar to the United States, continually fluctuated and ultimately stagnated because of restrictive trade policies introduced by the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930.
In 1933, the Sergeants’ Revolt, a coup led by Fulgencio Batista, led to the deposition of President Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and the introduction of a United States-backed military dictatorship. While the economy prospered under Batista, so did social ills and inequalities. Cuba became known for its decadence, a destination for prostitution and gambling at mafia-infested casinos. Moreover, while the economy under Batista was burgeoning for many, the underclass was experiencing extreme poverty and unemployment. In 1952, a young attorney named Fidel Castro petitioned the courts to overthrow the presidency of Batista due to his corruption, but Castro’s arguments were not persuasive to the Cuban courts. It was then that Castro concluded that more forceful steps were needed to rid Cuba of an administration he saw as tyrannical. With the help of his brother Raul, Castro organized a paramilitary organization called “The Movement,” and by the end of 1952 had recruited over 1,200 followers. In 1953, a failed attempt at stealing weapons from a military garrison landed Castro in prison for a term of 15 years but was released early due to international pressures. Upon his release, Castro traveled to Mexico to receive paramilitary training, and there met a young militant revolutionary named Che Guevara. Guevara joined forces with Castro, and both returned to Cuba to begin the revolution in earnest. On November 25, 1956, Castro, Guevara, and other supporters crash-landed a small yacht onto the shores of Playa Las Coloradas. After a brief but lethal attack by Batista’s army, they fled into the mountains, where they continued plans for a coup. In response to the growing revolutionary movement, Batista solicited the help of the United States to combat the rebels, but the United States played both hands and supplied support to the rebels, as well, sensing the need to establish a relationship should Castro’s revolution be successful. From 1957 through 1958, there was a dramatic shift in public support for the revolution. Batista’s public approval was dwindling, and an arms embargo by the United States further weakened Batista’s military powers. On January 1, 1959, Batista fled Cuba and Fidel Castro’s first appointed President, Manuel Urrutia Lleo, took office on January 3, 1959. In a speech by Fidel Castro on November 28, 1960, Castro spoke of the Havana Military Academy that had been abandoned by Raúl Chibás upon his defection to the United States. “A gentlemen left, leaving a school behind called the Havana Military Academy. Now we are adding to it, and it will be the first rebel army polytechnic school for the revolution … and it has the manpower to do all the tasks and achieve all the goals it proposes.”

Havana Military Academy Educators and Students

Raúl Chibás

Raúl Chibás (1917-1998) founder of the Havana Military Academy, and a long-time critic of the Batista administration, joined Fidel Castro’s revolutionary movement in 1957. Politics was no stranger to the Chibás family. His brother, Eddy Chibás, was the founder of the Partido Ortodoxo in Cuba, a former Senator and a controversial radio talk show host who committed suicide on air in an act of political contrition. Raul, believing that Castro was the answer to the overthrow of President Batista and the advent of democracy in Cuba, joined Castro in the Sierra Maestra Mountains, where he co-authored the Sierra Maestra Manifesto laying out the democratic intentions of the revolution. But Castro, needing the support of those with less radical leanings like Chibás, concealed his communist intentions. After the revolution, Chibás became disillusioned with Castro’s authoritarianism and defected to America in August 1960.

Félix Rodríguez

Félix Rodríguez (b. 1941), also known as Félix “El Gato” Ramos Medina, was a Havana Military Academy graduate recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency shortly after his defection to the United States in 1960. In 1961, Rodríguez slipped back into Cuba to prepare for the covert Bay of Pigs operation, but due to the failure of the mission, sought refuge at the Venezuelan embassy before he was allowed to leave Cuba. Rodríguez was involved in many CIA-backed operations, but he is most well-known for his participation in the assassination of Che Guevera on October 9, 1967, and arms trafficking for the CIA and the Nicaraguan Contras.

Manuel Artime

Manuel Artime (1932 –1977), a professor at the Havana Military Academy, was a former member of Castro’s rebel army.  In 1959, after becoming disillusioned by Castro’s increasingly communist leanings, he formed a counter-revolutionary group called the Movimiento de Recuperación Revolucionaria (MRR).  However, fearing assassination by Castro’s army, Artime defected to the United States with the help of the American embassy and the CIA.  After defecting, Artime was recruited by the CIA and become the leader of the Bay of Pigs resistance fighters and other anti-Castro campaigns, including a failed assassination attempt against Fidel Castro in 1965.  In the 1970s, Artime organized the Miami Watergate Defense Relief Fund, collecting money for the convicted Watergate burglars, a number of whom were American or Cuban veterans of the Bay of Pigs operation.  Artime died suddenly on November 18, 1977, prior to his scheduled appearance before the House Select Committee on Assassinations to give testimony on the John F. Kennedy assassination.

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Children’s Services, 1950s Borrower’s Card, issued to Stacy Chehak

Cedar Rapids Public Library, Children’s Services, Borrower’s Card
Early Maurice Sendak illustration

Cedar Rapids Public Library

Advertisement of the Free Library and Reading Room at First Avenue, The Cedar Rapids Gazette, Friday, January 12, 1883

On June 23, 1905, after having outgrown smaller spaces in the Granby Building and Dow Auditorium, which the Cedar Rapids Public Library occupied during the late 1800s, a new 29,000 sq. ft. building funded by Andrew Carnegie opened at Third Avenue and Fifth Street.  By the late 1960s, overcrowding would again become a problem.  New book donations were turned away and overstock was stored in the basement.  In the 1970s, through the donations of the Hall Foundation of Cedar Rapids and other private donors, a new 83,000 sq. ft. building was constructed at 500 First Street SE, which opened on February 17, 1985.  However, on June 13, 2008, the city of Cedar Rapids experienced catastrophic flooding which destroyed many private and city buildings, including the main public library.  Much of the adult and reference collections were destroyed and the library was forced to relocate to leased space while a new permanent location was constructed.  The new Ladd Library opened in August 2013 at 450 Fifth Avenue SE. The former Carnegie building is now the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art and houses the world’s largest collection of the “American Gothic” artist, Grant Wood among other noted Iowan artists.  

Cedar Rapids Public Library at 3rd Avenue and 5th Street (public domain postcard)

Anastasia “Stacy” Marie Chehak

Anastasia Marie Chehak (1953-2017) was a nationally-known diabetes expert, author and medical community leader. She was the founder of Anastasia Marie Laboratories, Inc. and The Voice of Diabetes Network, a live radio program. Serving on the US Senate Health Advisory Board under President Ronald Reagan was among her many achievements.  A 1978 graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center, she dedicated her life’s work to finding a cure for diabetes. 

Merced County Free Library, Gustine Branch, Gustine, California

Pre-1946 Library Card issued to Madeline Agnes Leite

1946 Merced County Free Library Card (front)

Merced County Free Library

The Merced County Free Library’s Gustine Branch, opened in November 1910.  Born from the donations of benefactors, including the Merced County Ladies Library, a membership social library which operated out of Nelson Cody’s (Buffalo Bill’s cousin) Corner Drug Store at 17th and Canal Streets in downtown Merced.  The initial offering of 500 volumes were donated by Nelson’s wife, Anna Marie Nelson Cody, and were located in a back room at the Park Restaurant.  The Gustine Branch relocated in 1948 to 6th Street and 2nd Avenue at Henry Miller Park where it still operates.

Madeline Agnes Leite (1928-2009)

Madelyn Agnes Silva “Mattie” Leite Amaral was a California native and advocate for disabled persons. 

Manchester Free Libraries, Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England

Borrower’s Card No. 9199 (2nd Series) issued to Henry Thomas Manners on May 16, 1865

1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (front)
1865 Manchester Free Libraries Borrower’s Card (back)

Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch

The Manchester Free Library at Campfield was the first lending library in England.   

Mirroring the Museums Act of 1845, which would “[empower] boroughs with a population of 10,000 or more to raise a ½d for the establishment of museums,” the Public Libraries Act (also known as the Free Library Act) was instituted in England.  While establishing the Act was not without argument, most notably the imposition of taxes, the voting body (the burgess-role) adopted the Act and became law with Royal Assent on August 14, 1850.

Soon after the Public Libraries Act was established, the Mayor of Manchester, John Potter (1815-1858), began a two-year effort to raise funds to house and stock the future library, and with the support of wealthy benefactors, the library finally opened with much fanfare on September 5, 1852.  Attendance at the opening ceremonies was over 1,000 persons, and included addresses from notable writers, Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray and Sir Edward Bulwark Lytton.

During the first weekend, nearly 10,000 people passed through the doors of the new library.

Etching by unknown artist of Manchester Free Libraries – Campfield Lending Branch, Manchester, England (Source:  “Manchester Public Free Libraries: a History and Description, and Guide to Their Contents and Use,” by William Robert, 1899) (Usage: no known copyright restrictions)

Edward Edwards (1809-1882) – First Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries (1852-1857)

Edward Edwards was one of the three proponents of the  Public Library Act of 1850, and subsequently appointed the first librarian of the Manchester Public Library.  While being granted an £80 pension, his “passion for the spread of knowledge led to personal poverty.”  His books and papers being his only assets at his death, he died penniless at the age of 73.

Andrea Crestadoro (1808-1879) – Chief Librarian, Manchester Free Libraries (1864-1879)

Andrea Crestadoro was Chief Librarian of the Manchester Free Libraries from 1864 to 1879.  He is credited with the development and implementation of the Keyword in Context Indexing catalog system used at the Manchester Free Libraries.

Henry Thomas Manners (abt. 1819-1895)

Henry Thomas Manners was an English merchant for Fabric manufacturer, Ashton & Company of Manchester, England.