Promoting the appreciation, enjoyment, and preservation of our library heritage
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Raspberry Island Lighthouse Bookcase
Pottawatomie Lighthouse Bookcase
My wife is a big fan of lighthouses and we have visited many of these historic structures over the years. On occasion my interest in library history and her interest in lighthouse history overlap. This is the case with the traveling libraries of the U.S. Light House Establishment, a predecessor to the U. S. Lighthouse Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. I first became aware of these libraries while visiting the Raspberry Island Lighthouse in Wisconsin's beautiful Apostle Islands. That lighthouse has one of the original traveling library bookcases (shown above). Later I came across a very nice reproduction of a traveling library bookcase in the Pottawatomie Lighthouse on Rock Island in Door County, WI (shown above). A number of lighthouses across the country have similar reproductions. More recently I became aware of an original lighthouse bookcase that is owned by the Milwaukee Historical Society. It was one of the featured items in their 2010 75th anniversary "Unlocking the Vault" digital exhibit. I have also just acquired a book for my collection that has a Light House Establishment bookplate (shown above). The book is Illustrated Natural History by J. G. Wood published by a London publisher in 1886. The lighthouse traveling libraries program was started by the USLHE in 1876 to provide reading materials to isolated lighthouse keepers and their families. This was a number of years before Melvil Dewey started the traveling library program of the New York State Library which spread throughout the United States. More on the USLHE traveling library program can be found HERE.