The Presbyterian Sunday School of Alpena, Michigan

Post-1890 Presbyterian Sunday School of Alpena Library Card issued to Mrs. Polson

Post-1890 Presbyterian Sunday School of Alpena Library Card (front)
Post-1890 Presbyterian Sunday School of Alpena Library Card (back)

The United Presbyterian Church of Alpena, Michigan

The congregation of the United Presbyterian Church of Alpena organized in 1884 when the Detroit Presbytery of the United Presbyterian Church of North America reported that a “special mission” had been established in Alpena.  The first worship service took place on July 20, 1884. A new church building opened on Washington Avenue in 1885.

New article from the Alpena Argus (Alpena, Michigan), Wednesday, January 14, 1885, Page 3, announcing the opening of the
new United Presbyterian Church on Washington Avenue in Alpena

Rev. Thomas Middlemis

Rev. Thomas Middlemis was born in Belfast, Ireland on December 28, 1839. According to Thom’s Almanac and Official Directory for the United Kingdom of 1859, he was associated with the Ballibay Presbytery of Castleblayney. On August 7, 1866, he married Jeannie Coulter who ten months later on June 3, 1867 at Killycard Cottage in Castleblayney, Ireland. In 1871, Rev. Middlemis immigrated to the United States. He married Jane Burns (born 1842-1926) April 25, 1872. They had three children, George Ross (1883–1949), Alice Maud (1875–1904), and Thomas, Jr. (1875–1928). The Middlemis family lived at 114 E. Maple in Alpena Michigan until his death from heart failure due to pneumonia on January 19, 1903. Rev. Middlemis, Jane Burns, Alice Maud and Thomas, Jr. are buried in the Evergreen Cemetary in Alpena, Michigan.

Obituary announcing the death of Jeannie Coulter.
The Belfast Newsletter (Belfast, Ireland), June 6, 1867, Page 2
Business college advertisement in the Alpena Argus (Alpena, Michigan), Wednesday, October 25, 1893, page 3
Obituary announcing the death of Rev. Middlemis
Rev. Thomas Middlemis obituary published in the Christian Work and Evangelist, January 31, 1903, Page 189

Alpena, Michigan

Downtown Alpena, 1884. 2nd Avenue, looking North from Washington Avenue.
Photo credit: Public domain photo from the Besser Museum of Northeast Michigan

Located in the northeast region along the shores of Lake Huron, Alpena was originally part of Anomickee County founded in 1840 (which was changed to Alpena in 1843). Alpena became officially incorporated on March 29, 1871.

Alpena is a pseudo-Native American word with an approximate translation of “a good partridge country.”

The Fires of Alpena

Most of Alpena was destroyed in the Great Michigan Fire of 1871, a series of simultaneous forest fires that burned 1.5 million acres and caused hundreds of deaths. Less than one year later, on July 12, 1872, another fire destroyed 15 acres of homes and businesses. The damages amounted to at least $250,000 (equal to nearly $6M in 2022), at least three people were killed, and hundreds were left homeless. Alpena was again hit by a disastrous fire on July 11, 1888.

Details of the Alpena Fire of July 1872.
The TimeHerald (Port Huron, Michigan), Monday, July 15, 1872, page 4
The Alpena Fire of 1888.
The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), Thursday, July 12,1888, Page 2

As of 2000, there were approximately 10,000 full-time year-round residents in Alpena. The summer months bring an influx of tourists to enjoy the otherwise sparsely populated Northeast Michigan (lower peninsula).

Noted Alpenians

Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901), anarchist and assassin of 25th U. S. President William F. McKinley; William Comstock (1877-1949), 33rd governor of Michigan; Betty Mahmoody (b. 1945), author of Not Without My Daughter; and Blaise Ilsley (b. 1964), pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.

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.

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. Cephas Carpenter was the librarian.

From the Second Biennial Report of the Board of Library Commissioners of Vermont 1897-98, Histories of Libraries,
Page 60.

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

Mrs. Cephas Carpenter

Anna Maria (Annie) Slater was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, in 1841. She married Cephas Carpenter on October 6, 1859. Her husband, Cephas, was appointed Postmaster of the Fletcher Post Office on July 17, 1894 (U.S., Appointments of U. S. Postmasters, 1832-1971}. . Annie Carpenter died January 28, 1908, and is buried at the Binghamville Cemetery in Fletcher, Vermont.

Death announcement in the Burlington Weekly Free Press, January 30, 1908

The Harvard College Library, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1895 Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt issued to R. E. Andrews

Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt for library privileges dated September 23, 1895 issued to R. E. Andrews (front)
Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt for library privileges dated September 23, 1895 issued to R. E. Andrews (back)

Founded in 1636, Harvard College (now Harvard University) and Harvard College Library is the oldest University and private and academic library in the United States.

Established through personal donations from the University’s namesake, John Harvard, a Puritan minister who bequeathed over 400 religious texts to the College on his death, the Library was initially located at the Old College building.

The Old College. From the Harvard University Archives,
Records of Early Harvard Buildings. No known copyright restrictions.

In 1676, The Library moved to Harvard Hall, where it remained for nearly 100 years until the building and library collection was destroyed by fire in 1764.

The original Harvard Hall destroyed by fire on January 24, 1764. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1676 to 1764. Artist unknown. No known copyright restrictions.
News article detailing the fire of 1764. The Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), February 23, 1764. No known copyright restrictions.

Rebuilt in 1766, the Library reopened with a new inventory of over 15,000 volumes, an inventory primarily donated by Thomas Hollis of England and books that were re-collected from students after the fire. Harvard Library’s online catalog system, HOLLIS (Harvard On-Line Library Information System), is thus named in his honor. Through a generous endowment provided by Hollis upon his death in 1774, the Library was able to continue purchasing books for the library, thus maintaining its position as the most extensive library in the United States. 

Harvard Hall, rebuilt in 1766. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1766 to 1841.
Pre-1925 public domain postcard.

Due to this continued growth, the Library moved once again in 1841 to Gore Hall. By 1912, Gore Hall was no longer suitable to hold the ever-growing collection, so the Library was disbursed into smaller specialty libraries.  

Gore Hall. Location of the Harvard College Library from 1841 to 1912.
Pre-1925 public domain postcard.

Libraries of the Harvard Library System

 • Andover-Harvard Theological Library (1911)

 • Arnold Arboretum Horticultural Library (1903)

 • George F. Baker Library (1927)

 • Biblioteca Berenson (Florence, Italy) (1961)

 • Botany Libraries

 • Godfrey Lowell Cabot Science Library (1973)

 • Francis A. Countway Library (1958)

 • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library (Washington, DC) (1940)

 • Ernst Mayr Library of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (1861)

 • Fine Arts Library (1895)

 • H.C. Fung Library (2005)

 • Monroe C. Gutman Library (1972)

 • Harvard Film Archive (1979)

 • Harvard Kennedy School Library and Knowledge Services (formerly the Harvard Graduate School of Public Administration) (1936)

 • Harvard Law School Library (1817)

 • Harvard University Archives (1851)

 • Harvard-Yenching Library (1928)

 • Arthur A. Houghton Library (1942)

 • Thomas W. Lamont Library (1949)

 • Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library (1976)

 • Frances Loeb Design Library (1969)

 • Robbins Library of Philosophy (1905)

 • Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at Radcliffe (1943)

 • Alfred Marston Tozzer Library (1866)

 • Harry Elkins Widener Library (1915)

 • John G. Wolbach Library (1934)

At 15 million volumes, The Harvard College Library continues to hold one of the largest collections in the United States, surpassed only by the Library of Congress. 

Robert Eaton Andrews

Robert Eaton Andrews was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on May 4, 1878.  He earned his B.A. from Harvard University in 1899, and his M.D. from Harvard University Medical School in 1903. He was a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, until his death in 1963.  

Charles F. Mason

Charles F. Mason (1860-1947), graduated from Harvard in 1882 and subsequently served as the Bursar of the University for 34 years from 1887-1921. 

Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library), Bucharest, Romania

Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library) (Pre-1923 public domain postcard)

Biblioteca Națională a României (BnaR) (The National Library of Romania), formerly Biblioteca Centrală de Stat (The Central State Library) located in Bucharest, is the largest library in Romania. Over its 100 year existence, the library has had several names depending on the political regime at the time.  

In 1986, construction on a new building began, but came to a complete halt during the Romanian Revolution of  December 1989 resulting in the overthrow of communism and the execution of communist leader, Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena.  In 2009, the Romanian government renewed construction and the new library building containing 14 reading rooms opened to the public in 2012, and currently holds approximately 13,000,000 volumes.

The original building located in Old Bucharest at Strada Ion Ghica and Strada Doamnei currently houses an antiques center.

The Forbes Library, Northampton, Massachusetts

Forbes Library, Northampton, MA (pre-1923 postcard – public domain)

The Forbes Library, also known as “the castle on the hill,” due to its solitary location, opened on October 23, 1894 at 20 West St, Northampton, Massachusetts.  Judge Charles Edward Forbes (1795-1881), a desiring a public library for the citizens of Northampton, left in his will a large sum for “purchase of a site and erection of a building for the accommodation of a public library, and for the purchase of books etc. to be placed therein for the use of the inhabitants of the said town of Northampton and their successors forever.”

William C. Brocklesby (1841-1910), who had designed a number of buildings at nearby Smith College, was commissioned to design and build a “fireproof building” to house the new library.  Brocklesby designed a Richardsonian Romanesque, three-story stone building with an all steel frame and a stone, slate and copper exterior. The large building could accommodate over 400,000 volumes.  The library underwent a complete renovation between 1998 and 2001 and is listed on the Register of Historic Buildings.  The Forbes Library is also home to the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library & Museum.