Martin Memorial Library, York, Pennsylvania

Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday

Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday (front)
Martin Memorial Library Card No. 20913 Issued to Mary Anne Sunday (back)

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.

Martin Memorial Library (postcard with no known copyright restrictions)

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.

Martin Carriage Works Ad, The Gazette, York Pennsylvania, February 3, 1912

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.  

Milton D. Martin (author unknown) (no known copyright restrictions)

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. 

Guille-Allès Library, Guernsey, Channel Islands

1945 Guille-Allès Library Reserved Book Reminder Postcard addressed to Mrs. P. De la Mare

1945 Guille-Allès Library Reserved Book Reminder Postcard addressed to Mrs. P. De la Mare (front)
1945 Guille-Allès Library Reserved Book Reminder Postcard addressed to Mrs. P. De la Mare (back)

The Guille-Allès Library

“Never shall I forget, the emotion of wonder and delight which seized me when, for the first time, I entered the library. ”

– Thomas Guille said of his first time in the Apprentice’s Library of The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen in New York City

In 1832, 14-year-old, Thomas Guille, set off from Guernsey for America to become an apprentice at a painting company owned by a family friend, Daniel Mauger. While in New York City, Guille had access to the Apprentice’s Library of The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen. Amazed by the library’s extensive collection, Guille resolved to open a similar library in Guernsey and, thus, began purchasing books with his earnings. In 1834, Frederick Mansell Allès, a school friend of Guille’s, joined him in New York and found employment at the same painting company. Several years later, when Daniel Mauger opened another business in neighboring Brooklyn, Guille and Allès took over the New York City company, beginning what would be a lifelong partnership. 

In 1851, while on a routine visit to Guernsey, Guille unveiled his proposed library plan through a series of articles in the local newspaper, La Gazette Official de Guernsey, but it took another five years for his plans to begin to unfold. In 1856, Guille established a circulating library that rotated a supply of books amongst several stations throughout the island. Then in 1867, all of the books were centralized at one location in St. Peter Port.

In 1869, after experiencing near-fatal sunstroke, Guille and his new wife, Eliza, returned permanently to Guernsey, bringing with him the books he had collected while in New York City. Guille’s recuperation was slow, but this allowed him to set about developing the library, but on August 11, 1871, Eliza fell from a cliff to her death while walking with friends. A bereaved Guille subsequently devoted himself entirely to the development of the library, along with the assistance of John Linwood Pitts. In 1881, Guille’s 30-year business partner, Frederick Allès, returned permanently to Guernsey and re-associated himself with the library venture.  The growing library was moved to the Assembly Rooms on Market Street and opened to the public on January 2, 1882.

The Star (Saint Peter Port, Guernsey, England), December 13, 1881.

While the library was public, it was not yet free. Because the English Libraries Act did not extend to the Channel Islands, there was a small annual membership fee of 10 francs. 

One year later, Guille and Allès purchased the Market Street building, which had room for 50,000 volumes, as well as newspaper and magazine rooms, reference and lending libraries, meeting rooms and classrooms, a cloakroom, and even a ladies’ lavatory. 

Frederick Mansell Allès died on February 20, 1985, and Thomas Guille on December 4, 1896.  

Late 1800’s Guille-Allès Library Book Plate (usually found on the outside cover of the book)
Late 1800’s Guille-Allès Library Book Plate
Late 1800’s Guille-Allès Library Book Stamp

World War II

On June 30, 1940, during the peak of World War II, German troops invaded the Channel Islands resulting in a five-year occupation.  Although Guernsey was occupied, the Guille-Allès Library continued operating, although hours were cut short and books were censored and many replaced with German language reading materials. German soldiers were issued permits to borrow books, but were rarely used.   

As the occupation continued and life became more difficult for the people of Guernsey, in acts of passive resistance, the librarians began to hide forbidden items such as food and wireless radio sets behind books and on dummy shelves.  In 1942, Guille-Allès librarian, Arthur Henry Davey, was arrested by German troops and sent to Biberach, an internment camp in Germany for inhabitants of the Channel Islands.  During his imprisonment, the library maintained his position and saved his pay until he returned after the war.  The Channel Islands and Guernsey remained occupied until May 9, 1945, when German forces surrendered upon the announcement of the end of the war.  

The Old Government House Hotel

The card is addressed to Mrs. P. De la Mare at Fairholme, Ann’s Place, St. Peter Port, which is the address of The Old Government House Hotel.  Built in the early eighteenth century as a home for a local merchant, the house was purchased by the Channel Islands’ government in 1797 to serve as the home of the Lieutenant Governor.  In 1857, the home was sold and began operation as the Old Government House Hotel.  During the German occupation, the hotel was used a base for German officers, and in 1941, became a soldiers’ home for the remainder of the war.  The hotel continues to operate today as a 5-star hotel.

The Old Government House Hotel, circa 1960s (no known copyright restrictions)

The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch, Queens, New York

Pre-1930 The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch Library Card No. MA 421 issued to Edith Wietzke

The Queens Borough Public Library, Maspeth Branch, Queens, New York

In the Report of the Queens Borough Public Library (1906), it was noted that there were large communities in the Queens Borough without library facilities. Maspeth, with a population of 3,800, was among those communities named.  With this in mind, the Queens Borough Public Library opened a “traveling library station” at 80 Grand Street in Maspeth on July 27, 1911.  Traveling libraries were often housed in drug stores, recreation centers, or other public spaces and tended to by proprietors that were willing to look after the distribution of books. In addition, dedicated “library stations” were housed in rented rooms and open to borrowers three times a week. Trained librarians that travelled to the stations maintained the distribution of the books and would oversee a monthly rotation of the stock to provide readers with an always up-to-date selection. 

By July 1929, due to overwhelming use of the Maspeth library station, additional days and evening hours were added to the schedule giving borrowers additional time to use the library station facilities. 

Over the years, the Maspeth Branch library station was housed in multiple locations, including 80 Grand Street, Grand Street and Columbia Place, the Legion Building at 47 Grand Street (in 1923); 66-40 Grand Avenue (during the 1930s), and ultimately 69-70 Grand Avenue, when a new facility was built in 1973.

Maspeth Library in the News

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 8, 1921. Clipping courtesy of Newspapers.com. No known copyright restrictions.

Edith Witzke

Edith Wietzke (1913-unknown) was born in Vohwinkle, Germany.  In April of 1923, Edith and her mother, Meta (1888-1950), and father, Reinhold (1880-1977), left the turmoil in Germany for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Two years later, in May of 1925, Edith’s father set off for America, followed by Edith and her mother three months later. The family settled in Maspeth, New York.