1896 Fletcher Public Library Card No. 53 issued to James Fitzgerald
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.
Pre-1960 Book Pocket and Book Card, 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.
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 (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 (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(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.
1895 Harvard University Bursar’s Office Freshman Security Receipt issued to R. E. Andrews
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pre-1934 Reader’s Card No. 51582 issued to Lawrence Mulliner
The James V. Brown Library
The James V. Brown Library, at 19 East Fourth Street in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, opened its doors to the public in 1907. James V. Brown, a wealthy business owner, had long desired to build a public library for the citizens of Williamsport, but plans in earnest didn’t begin until 1899 when Brown purchased a plot of land on which to build the new library. Brown then hired Philadelphia architect, Edgar V. Seeler, to design the new library. By May 1900, Seeler had proposed a grand, French Renaissance building, complete with monolithic, twenty-two foot, dual columns flanking the entrance. Seeler designed the building to include an art gallery space, marble statues imported from Italy, an elevator, steam heat and electric lights throughout.
The cornerstone was laid on March 10, 1906, and the library opened to the public on June 17, 1907.
The James V. Brown Library Reader’s Card Application
James V. Brown
James Van Duzee Brown, born on March 4, 1826, was a business owner and philanthropist in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He amassed a large fortune through a number of early business ventures, including lumber, coal and flour milling. He was an early founder of the First National Bank in Pennsylvania, President of the Williamsport Water Company and the Citizens’ Gas and Water Company. Prior to his death, he pledged $400,000 to build a public library. James V. Brown died on December 8, 1904, three years before completion of the new library.
The Panama Canal Library, Panama Canal Zone, 1941 Library Card No. 06953 issued to Mrs. M. E. Nantz
The Panama Canal and The Panama Canal Zone
In 1903, the Republic of Panama, having just gained independence from Columbia, granted the United States full control of a 20 mile wide stretch of territory in the Isthmus of Panama to build a canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to create shipping routes. In addition to the construction of the canal, homes, schools, hospitals, offices and recreational areas were built for the thousands of Americans that would protect and oversee operations of the canal.
The Panama Canal Zone was built to resemble an American suburb, complete with cream and gray stucco houses and manicured lawns. American automobiles were imported and movie theaters showed the latest movies being shown in the States. Peak population was around 100,000 during 1950-1953. Although “the Zone” was described by some as “a kind of paradise,” it was anything but for many residents. A “rigid social hierarchy” and Jim Crow by-laws enforced social and racial inequities.
In 1999, the Panama Canal Zone was transferred back to the Panamanian government, thus ending U. S. involvement in the maintenance and protection of the Panama Canal.
The Panama Canal Library
In 1914, The Panama Canal Library was established providing an official reference service for the Panama Canal Zone. The library system consisted of nine stations — a Main Library, three branches and five circulating libraries. Anyone that lived in or worked in the Canal Zone was eligible for library privileges. However, non-U.S. Citizens or anyone not working for or living in the Canal Zone was required to make a refundable deposit when borrowing materials. In 1951, the Panama Canal Library became the Canal Zone Library-Museum.
Mrs. M. E. Nantz
Maria Nantz (1898-1990) was born in Puerto Rico. Her husband, Merle Edward Nantz (1902-1989) was a Civil Engineer for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Corp of Engineers, working in Wyoming, the Panama Canal Zone, and Nebraska. They retired to Sarasota, Florida.
Borrower’s Card No. 9199 (2nd Series) issued to Henry Thomas Manners on May 16, 1865
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.
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.
1957 Borrower’s Card No. 6N-8530 Issued to Elliot I. Walsey
The Fordham Branch Library building, designed by the prominent New York architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, who was known for designing the main New York Public Library in Manhattan, opened for circulation on September 24, 1923.
The New York Public Library, Fordham Branch, was one of many public libraries and public buildings endowed by steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie. In the latter years of his life, he believed the rich had a responsibility to “improve society,” and hence, donated $350M (equal to over $5B today) to the construction of over 3,000 libraries and public spaces in his birthplace, Scotland, the United States, and around the world.
The “Fordham Branch Library” having become too small to accommodate neighborhood needs, closed in November 2005 and reopened as the Bronx Library Center at 301 East Kingsbridge Road on January 17, 2006. The new 78,000 square-foot facility is a state-of-the-art, green library that houses the New York Public Library’s premiere Latino and Puerto Rican Heritage Collection.
Elliot I. Walsey (1938-2012)
Elliot Ira Walsey, born September 26, 1938 in New York, New York, was an American business owner. He was the founder and former President of Benchmark Graphics, Ltd.
1908 Card No. 84399 and 1909 Special Card No. 84399 Issued to Lewis Radcliffe
The Public Library, Washington, DC
The Public Library of Washington, DC, also known as The Carnegie Library or Central Public Library, is located in Mount Vernon Square at 8th and K Streets, NW. The Beaux-Arts building, designed by New York-based Ackerman & Ross, was dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt and benefactor, Andrew Carnegie, on January 7, 1903. The Carnegie Library was the first public library in Washington, DC, as well as the first desegregated public building in the Nation’s Capitol.
The Public Library of Washington, DC was one of many public libraries and public buildings endowed by steel magnate, Andrew Carnegie. In the latter years of his life, he believed the rich had a responsibility to “improve society,” and hence, donated $350M (equal to over $5B today) to the construction of over 3,000 libraries and public spaces in his birthplace, Scotland, the United States, and around the world.
The “Central Public Library” was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969. In use for over 70 years as the main public library in Washington, DC, the Carnegie Library, after undergoing a $30M historic renovation, is currently the cite of the Apple Carnegie Library, a multi-discipline learning center, which houses the DC History Center, Kiplinger Research Library, three galleries, a museum store and an Apple products showroom.