Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca, Rome, Italy

Pre-1937 Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Library Card N.641, Issued to Alberto Sorani

Pre-1937 Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Library Card N.641, Issued to Alberto Sorani (front)
Pre-1937 Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Library Card N.641, Issued to Alberto Sorani (back)

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.

English Translation of Istituto Fascista di Cultura Biblioteca Card N. 641, issued to Alberto Sorani

Giovanni Gentile

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, 1930. No copyright restrictions, Public domain photograph..

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. 

Giovanni Gentile presents to Benito Mussolini the first volume of La Treccani. Palazzo Venezia, Rome, Italy,, 1937. No copyright restrictions. Public Domain photograph.

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..  

LaGrange Negro Library, LaGrange, Georgia

1952-1962 LaGrange Negro Library Borrower’s Card No. 3346 issued to Edward Paige, Jr.

1952-1962 LaGrange Negro Library Borrower’s Card No. 3346 issued to Edward Paige, Jr. (front)
1952-1962 LaGrange Negro Library Borrower’s Card No. 3346 issued to Edward Paige, Jr. (back)

LaGrange Negro Library

Established after 1951 with local funding, the LaGrange Negro Library was part of the Negro Library Community Center in LaGrange.  

Edward Paige, Jr.

Edward Paige, Jr.  (1933-1978) served as a Private First Class for the US Army during the Korean War.

Missouri Penitentiary Library, Jefferson City, Missouri

Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card

Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card (front)
Early 1900’s Missouri Penitentiary Library Card (back)

Missouri Penitentiary Library

Missouri Penitentiary, Jefferson City, Missouri (Public Domain, Pre-1923 postcard)

Called the “Bloodiest 47 acres in America,” the Missouri Penitentiary in Jefferson City opened in 1836.  It was Missouri’s primary maximum security prison and the oldest operating penal facility west of the Mississippi River when it closed in 2004.  

Inmate mugshot, Thomas J. Barker (Inmate Photograph Collection, Missouri State Archives, no known copyright restrictions)

Library Rules

  1. Write on Library Card at least twenty numbers precisely as they appear in catalogue.  For example:  4-25, 29-30, 37-9, 54-5 denotes that there are several copies of the same book in library.
  2. In moving, each man must take all books charged to him to new cell. 
  3. Each cell will be furnished with a catalogue.
  4. Each man will be charged and held responsible for all books received.  Changing books from cell to cell is forbidden.
  5. Each man is entitled to one book each week
  6. The librarians will note any injury done to books and report the same at once to the chaplain.  The man to whom the book is charged will be held responsible.
  7. Books will be changed once each week, as follows:





  1. Mechanical and special books from No. 5816 to No. 5950 are issued to those only whose positions in the institution make it necessary.
  2. Reference books from No. 5951 to No. 6083 do not go out of library except by special permission.
  3. Each man will be furnished with a Bible and such school supplies as may be necessary on application.
  4. The library is under the control of the Chaplain.

W. R. Painter

From the 1917 Mexico Weekly Ledger, Mexico, MO

William Rock Painter (1874-1947) served as Prison Chaplain and Librarian from 1901 to 1908.  He served as Missouri State Lieutenant-Governor from 1913 to 1917, and Interim Warden of the penitentiary in 1917.  As Warden, he advocated education to combat illiteracy and abolished “silent meals” in the cafeteria, believing that silent meals should only be used as punishment and not a rule of behavior for inmates.  Painter went on to become a leader in the Democratic Party in the Missouri State Senate serving from 1917 to 1929.

Hugh Stephens

Hugh Stephens (1877-1960) was an American businessman, heir to the Tribune Printing Company and publisher of the Daily Tribune. His wife, Bessie Miller Stephens, along with members of the Tuesday Club, a literary club founded in 1895, helped establish a subscription library in Jefferson City, and later, with the help of a grant from the Andrew Carnegie fund, a free library.

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.