Thursday, April 21, 2022

The 1982 Library of Congress Stamp

On this day (April 21, 1982) forty years ago the United States Postal Service issued a stamp honoring the Library of Congress. It was significant in that it was the first United States stamp to specifically honor a library. Although there had been previous postage stamps on which library buildings had appeared, those were issued to commemorate academic and other institutions or architects. Originally, the proposed stamp was to commemorate all of America's libraries collectively and the Library of Congress individually. Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin wasn't happy with the design of the stamp, however, and the Postmaster General agreed to issue a separate stamp for the Library of Congress. The stamp honoring America’s Libraries collectively was issued on July 13,1982 at the conference of the American Library Association in Philadelphia. Both stamps were designed by noted graphics designer Bradbury Thompson. I have a large collection of first day covers for both stamps. One of my favorites for the Library of Congress issue is shown above. It was the Library of Congress Philatelic Club Cachet Number 1. The illustration on the envelope (called a cachet) is a pen and ink drawing by Paul Boswell.  Boswell was a staff member at the Library of Congress where he worked for 46 years. Bowell was also a poet and in 1994 Boswell published a book of his poems and drawings titled No Anchovies on the Moon: Three Score and Ten Washington Pictures and Poems. Boswell died in 1994. The first day cover is signed by Boswell and Librarian of Congress Daniel J. Boorstin. 

The Library of Congress Philatelic Club produced first day covers for 18 different stamp issues. Their second first day cover cachet was for the America’s Libraries stamp.

I also published a blog post on the 30th anniversary of the issue of the Library of Congress stamp.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Women on Library Postcards Revisited

 As a tribute to Women's History Month I'm revisiting the topic of women on library postcards which I previously posted about on March 12, 2013. The first postcard below was mailed on July 10, 1907 and depicts the female staff of the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, Illinois. The library had moved into a new building in 1904 funded by a $50,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie. With the help of more recent staff members I was able to identify the women on the post card left to right as Alice Belleau, Gladys V. Hull, Minnie J. Pooley, Matie K. Quinn, Lillian C. Miles, Kate E. Marshall, and H. Belva Hull. James Shaw, the Librarian at the time, is not shown.

Interior William Fogg Library in Eliot, ME. Unmailed RPPC circa 1907.
Librarian Gail Willis is at table in reading room.
Interior Adrian College Library in Adrian, MI. Mailed on 1/10/09.

Interior Hyannis (MA) Public Library. Unmailed RPPC circa 1930s.
Ora Adams, librarian from 1900 to 1943, at desk.

Bookmobile for the Library Associatin of Portland, Oregon. Unmailed circa 1920s.

Monday, February 28, 2022

More Carnegie HBCU Libraries on Postcards

 Andrew Carnegie funded library buildings at fifteen Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). I have previous posts about the library at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and the library at Fisk University. The other libraries are located at: Alabama A&M in Normal, AL; Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA; Benedict College in Columbia, SC; Johnson C. Smith Univ. in Charlotte, NC (formerly Biddle Univ.); Cheyney State University in PA; Florida A&M in Tallahassee, FL; Fort Valley Normal and Industrial Institute Fort Valley, GA; Howard University in DC; Knoxville College in Knoxville, TN;  Livingstone College in NC; Talladega College in AL, Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, Ohio; and Wiley College in TX. Postcards for the libraries are difficult, if not impossible, to find. Below are postcards showing Carnegie HBCU libraries in my collection.

Carnegie Library, Alabama A&M Univ. in Normal, AL

Carnegie Library, Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA
Library is building on the left.
Carnegie Library, Benedict College in Columbia, SC
Carnegie Library, Florida A&M in Tallahassee, FL
Fort Valley Normal and Industrial Institute Fort Valley, GA
Carnegie Library is building on the left.
Carnegie Library, Howard University in DC

Johnson C. Smith Univ. in Charlotte, NC (formerly Biddle Univ.)
Carnegie Library is building on the right.


Monday, February 14, 2022

Fisk University Libraries


Fisk University is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) located in Nashville, TN which was established in 1866. The University was the recipient of a grant for $20,000 from Andrew Carnegie for a library building in 1905. The library opened in 1909. It was designed by black architect Moses McKissack III, and it was one of the first major structures designed by a black architect in the U.S. An image of the library is shown above. The building currently serves as the Fisk University Academic Building. The image is from an online article by John Baldwin titled "Fisk University Academic Building (formerly Carnegie Library)" which is part of Clio: Your Guide to History for May 18, 2018. An interesting aspect of the Fisk University Carnegie library building was that it was made available to Nashville's "colored citizens" under the same rules as it served Fisk students. I learned this information from an excellent historical overview of Fisk University libraries by Jessica Carney Smith in Tennessee Libraries. At the time Smith wrote the article she was the Librarian for Fisk. 

By the late 1920s the Carnegie building was inadequate and a $400,000 grant from the General Education Board made a new library building possible. That building which is shown on the postcard above was completed in the fall of 1930. It was designed by architect Henry C. Hibbs. Then University Librarian Louis S. Shores played a major role in its planning. The building was designed to also serve nearby Meharry Medical College. Provision was also made to include a "Carnegie branch library" for Nashville's black residents. A significant feature of the interior of the building was murals painted by Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas. 

According to Jessica Carnie Smith's article Arna Bontemps, a Harlem Renaissance writer, became Fisk's first black head librarian in 1943. Bontemps added professional staff and built up special collections at the library. He left Fisk in 1965 and was replaced by Jessica Carney Smith. The need for an even larger library facility resulted in a new 74,000 square foot building that opened in January 1970. it was named the John Hope and Aurelia E. Franklin Library in 2000.

I attended George Peabody College (now part of Vanderbilt University) in Nashville from 1961 to 1965. From 1963 to 1965 I worked part time at the Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County. During that period Arna Bontemps served on the Board of Trustees of the public library. For part of the time his son was also a part-time employee of the public library. In 1965 I applied to the University of Illinois Library School and part of the application process involved an interview with an alumni of the school. Jessica Carney Smith was working at what is now Tennessee State University in Nashville when I applied to the U of I. She had just received her doctorate from the University of Illinois Library School, the first African American to do so, and she conducted my interview. Soon after that Smith became the Librarian at Fisk University.

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Hampton Institute's Library School


The otherwise unremarkable envelope above which I recently added to my collection of postal librariana has an interesting black history connection. Hampton University (formerly Hampton Institute) in Hampton, VA is one of America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (UBCUs). The envelope was mailed from The Library School Hampton Institute in Hampton, VA on Dec. 17, 1932 to Northfield, MN. A cooperative effort involving the American Library Association (ALA), the Carnegie Corporation, and other philanthropic foundations resulted in the establishment of a library school at the then Hampton Institute in 1925.  It was the nation's first and only library school to serve African Americans. The library school was initially funded with a grant from the Carnegie Corporation and was accredited by the American Library Association to issue a bachelor's degree in library science. The library school lasted until 1939 when it was cut due to lack of funding. An article on "The Passing of the Hampton Library School" by S.L. Smith appeared in the January, 1940 issue of the Journal of Negro Education. Also under consideration for the library school were Fisk University in Nashville, TN and Atlanta University in Atlanta, GA. The decision to select the Hampton Institute for the library school is explored in an article titled "Hampton, Fisk, and Atlanta: The Foundations, the American Library Association, and Library Education for Blacks, 1925-1941" by Robert Martin and Lee Shiflett in the Spring 1966 issue of Libraries and Culture. After the demise of the library school at Hampton Institute a  library school was established at Atlanta University in 1941. That library school ceased to exist in 1991. A history of the Atlanta University school is located HERE.

In 2018 when Hampton University celebrated its 150th anniversary the University's Library conducted a forum on "Minority Recruitment and Retention in the Library & Information Science Field." 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

Charles Winter Wood, Tuskegee Institute Librarian


The un-mailed undivided back postcard above has several different stories to tell. It includes a picture of Charles Winter Wood (1869-1953) who is identified as the Librarian for the Carnegie Library of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. There is little information, however, about Wood's role as a librarian on the Internet. There is an article about Wood's connection with Beloit College in Wisconsin, something that caught me by surprise. Booker T. Washington hired Wood as head of Tuskegee Institute's English and Drama Departments in 1897, a capacity in which he served for over 30 years. In 1900 the Tuskegee Institute received the first of 15 grants made by Andrew Carnegie for  library buildings for  Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs). The Carnegie Library building is shown on the postcard above. Wood assumed the additional role of Librarian for the Tuskegee Institute in 1904. It is not clear how long he maintained this dual responsibility but the postcard was copyrighted in 1907. Outside of his academic responsibilities at the Tuskegee Institute, Wood is most noted for his acting career which was significant. The Charles Winter Wood Theater at Florida A&M University is named for him. Shaundra Walker has written an interesting article about Andrew Carnegie's library grants to HBCUs. There is also an interesting project at the University of Southern Mississippi about Carnegies grants for public library buildings that served African Americans. 

First day cover for the 1948 Booker T. Washington stamp. Includes a picture of the Tuskegee Institute faculty in front of the Carnegie Library. 

Monday, January 31, 2022

Iowa Carnegie Libraries on Postcards


Iowa City, IA to South English, IA, April 17, 1905.
Message reads: "This is our library - a gift from Andrew Carnegie, that kind old Scotchman who has gladdened the hearts of so many young Americans by his munificent gifts."

Iowa received grants from Andrew Carnegie to help build 101 public libraries in 99 communities and 7 academic libraries. This was the 4th highest number of grants received by any state nationwide. One or more postcard views exist for almost all of these libraries. Judy Aulik has one of the most complete collections of Iowa Carnegie library postcards. These are displayed on her "Civic Pride in a Lost America: Library Postcards" website. The Iowa images start with this link and continue for multiple pages. I have a much more modest collection with one or more postcards for 51 of the libraries. All postcards shown in this blog post are from my collection.

The Carnegie Libraries in Iowa Project (CLIP)is the most comprehensive source of information about Iowa's Carnegie libraries. There is a separate page on the website for each of the libraries. On that page is a link to "Images" for the library. These images often include the front and back of postcards which are described in detail. Among those images are many that depict postcards from my collection which I made available to the project. The CLIP is an amazing resource and is worthy of replication in other states.

Fairfield, IA to Burlington, IA, Oct. 2, 1809.
In 1892, Fairfield, IA, received the first grant from Carnegie for a library west of PA.

Cedar Rapids, IA to Toledo, IA, Oct. 20, 1910. Cedar Rapids Public Library interior view.

Sioux City, IA to Western Spring, IL, Nov. 29, 1909. Sioux City Public Library.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Edna Isabel Allyn and the Hawaii State Library

 The significance of the nondescript postal card below rests with its connection to one of the most important people in the history of the Hawaii State Library – Edna Isabel Allyn (1861-1927).  When this card was sent to Allyn by her former staff at the Brooklyn Sub Branch of the Cleveland Public Library, she had just become librarian of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association.  Allyn would transition this library into a free public library and then the Hawaii State Library. She would become Hawaii’s first State Librarian.  The card is a pre-printed overdue book notice that has been adapted in a humorous way – “Please return yourself at once and avoid accruing our displeasure.”  The postal card is dated June 14, 1907 and addressed to “The Truant”. It has no postage or postmark and was probably enclosed in another envelope for delivery to Honolulu.

The Honolulu Library & Reading Room Association was established in 1879 when Hawaii was still a country with a king and its own postal system. H. A. Parmelee was one of the founders of the library. This postal card was mailed locally in Honolulu on Oct. 31, 1892. 

Postcard shows the library in Honolulu directed by Edna Allyn.  Message on the back reads in part: “The building on the left is the library.  We hope for a better one some day.” Mailed from Honolulu, Hawaii to the Public Library in Newark, NJ, March 16, 1908. 

In 1909 the Hawaii Library and Reading Room Association transfered its assets to the newly formed Library of Hawaii which received a $100,000 grant from Andrew Carnegie for a building. That building opened (shown below) to the public on February 1, 1913. Edna Allyn was appointed the first librarian, a post she held until her death in 1927. The children's section of the library is named in her honor.  Postcard mailed on March 5, 1931. 

After statehood in 1959 the Library of Hawaii became the Hawaii State Library.

Monday, January 17, 2022

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Postcard


The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library , Washington, DC's central public library, is one of the most significant and appropriate memorials to Martin Luther King, Jr. The Board of Library Trustees named the library in memory of King in 1971 before the new building opened on August 21, 1972. The building was designed by world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The postcard above which shows the library was mailed in 1978. Based on the message on the back of the postcard it was probably sent by a library school student at the nearby Catholic University of America. The postcard was sent to a librarian in Geneva, Il. The message reads: "Here's a library postcard to add to your collection - or is it a friends? Anyway was down here today trying to find Maurice Tauber's Technical Services in Libraries. Do you believe it was out. BORING! which sums up most of my 15 credits - a letter will follow!" Two personal connections to me - library postcard collector and former library school student.

In 2020 the Library completed a massive $211 million rehabilitation. It still serves as an appropriate memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Librarians on a Postcard and Philippine Libraries

Librarians are rarely depicted on postcards so it was amazing to find one that depicted 24 librarians. It was even more amazing to discover the postcard's connection to two important librarians in Philippine library history. The librarians depicted on the postcard were the entire 1922 class of the N. Y. State Library School. That's the library school founded by Melvil Dewey at Columbia University and then moved to the New York State Library in Albany, NY. The library school subsequently moved back to Columbia University. The postcard is a Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) and the photographer was Gustave Lorey who operated a prominent photography studio in Albany. The address side on the postcard is where the two Phillipine librarians come into the story. The postcard is addressed to Miss Mary Polk, Bureau of Science Library, Manila, PI. It is signed "Sincerely yours, Isidoro Saniel". It is dated Mar. 26, 1921 but is not stamped or postmarked. This means it was probably mailed inside an envelope to Manila. I was able to locate a great article on the internet about Mary Polk and her contribution to Philippine librarianship. It was written by Bradley Brazzeal and is titiled "Science Librarianship in Colonial Philippines: Mary Polk and the Philippin Bureau of Science Library, 1903-1924". Brazzeal includes a quote in his article that Polk could "righly be called the mother of Philippine Library Science". He indicates also that the Philippine Association of Academic Research Librarians continues to provide a scholarship in the name of Polk that "honors the life and accomplishments of Mary Polk, the first librarian of the University of the Philippines, who started the first formal library science training program in the same university". Brazzeal's article also explains the connection between Mary Polk and Isidoro Saniel. Saniel was one of several individuals in the Philippines who were sent to library schools in the United States for formal library training. Saniel was sent to the N. Y. State Library School. She returned to play a prominent role in Philippine librarianship, and has written a history of the Philippine Library Association which she helped found. [Saniel, Isidoro. “Forty-Nine Years of the Philippine Library Association.” The Journal of Library History (1966-1972), vol. 7, no. 4, University of Texas Press, 1972, pp. 301–12,] It is likely that Saniel is one of the class of 1922 depicted on the postcard. The records of the New York State Library School are now located in the Archival Collections of Columbia University Libraries. An enterprising researcher might be able to identify the other members of the class of 1922.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Libraries and Trolleys on Postcards

 In the golden age of picture postcards both libraries and trolleys (streetcars) were common subjects of the cards. Postcards which feature both libraries and trolleys, however, are uncommon. I find those postcards especially interesting and appealing. Public libraries in large cities are more likely to be featured on postcards which also include one or more trolleys.  The Boston Public Library is featured on more postcards that include a trolley by far than any other library. Not far behind is the New York Public Library. Below are some of the postcards in this category from my personal collection of library postcards.

The first card features the Boston Public Library. It is interesting because of the message on the address side of the card. It reads "Public Library. Note small street car. I have seen the cars of New York, Boston, Phila., Chicago, Norfolk, Jamestown, Mil. but none half as good and big as Mpls. [Minneapolis]." The postcard was posted on Nov. 8, 1909 on the U.S.S Missouri. 

Unposted card features the Carnegie Library in Stillwater, MN and a trolley from the Twin City Lines.

Multiple trolleys are featured on this postcard for Ashville, NC which was posted on Oct. 31, 1907. The library is the castle like building on the right.
Unposted Real Photo Postcard (RPPC) featuring the Milwaukee Public Library and Museum. Trolley is in front of library on lower right.

Four trolleys appear on this Chicago Public Library postcard which was posted Sept. 29, 1910. Message on back reads "This picture does not do justice to the building. It is some place."

Thursday, January 6, 2022

Two Additional Library People on Postage Stamps

I’ve been collecting libraries and library people on postage stamps for more than 25 years.  I haven’t been as aggressive in my pursuit of these stamps in recent years so I was slow to realize the connection to libraries of two of the stamps in the United State Postal Service “Voices of the Harlem Renaissance” issue of 2020.  Both individuals on the stamps had strong connections to the New York Public Library (NYPL). The first person was Nella Larsen (1891-1964) who was honored as a novelist, but also was a librarian at the NYPL. She worked at three different branch libraries – the 135th Street Branch, the Seward Park Branch, and the Countee Cullen Branch.  She was the first black woman to graduate from the NYPL Library School.  Although not honored as a librarian, Larsen was the first (and only) person with professional librarian credentials to appear on a United States postage stamp.  Wikipedia has a comprehensive entry for Nella Larsen.  The “Little Known Black Librarian Facts” blog has an entry for Larsen with an excellent list of sources.  Bob Sink’s “NYPL Librarians” blog has an interesting post about Ernestine Rose’s role in the integration of branch library staffs including her connection to Larsen. 

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg (1874-1938) was the second person on a stamp with a library connection.  The USPS description of his contributions: “By tirelessly collecting books, documents, artwork, and other materials, Schomburg rescued black history from obscurity and preserved priceless cultural knowledge for future generations.”  His collection was acquired by the New York Public Library and was the foundation for what became the Arthur Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Wikipedia has a nice entry for Schomburg. It is noteworthy that the previously mentioned Ernestine Rose also played a significant role in acquiring and building the Schomburg collection at NYPL. 

Library people especially librarians are rarely recognized on postage stamps for their contributions as library people. Those who are on postage stamps are usually recognized for some other contribution.  On my Library History Buff website which I no longer update because of obsolete software I have several sections devoted to the topic of library people on postage stamps.  They include “Library People on Postage Stamps – An Introduction”, “A Postage Stamp to Honor America’s Librarians”, “U.S. Library People on Postage Stamps”, and “World Library People on Postage Stamps”.

As a collector of libraries and library people on postage stamps I have benefited in my search for these stamps by my membership in the American Topical Association and the Graphics Philately Association.  The Graphics Philately Association publishes a comprehensive list of these and other graphics related postage stamps titled Winnegrad’s Printing on Stamps compiled by Bruce L. Johnson. The Graphics Philately Association also publishes a quarterly publication titled Philateli-Graphics which includes listing of new stamp issues of graphic interest which includes libraries.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Community Advertising Covers (Envelopes)


Sparta, WI

I’ve been a collector of envelopes (called covers by philatelists) related to libraries for more than 25 years. In my efforts to collect these I discovered a category of covers called “community advertising covers”.  These covers usually include multiple photographs or illustrations depicting prominent buildings and geographic features of a community (usually on the front of the cover) and written commentary extolling the virtues of living or doing business in the community (usually on the back of the cover). My personal collection of these covers numbers over 70 including examples from 18 states. I’m interested in these covers because an image of a library building is often featured on the cover, and the community's library is often touted as one of the advantages of living or doing business in the community in the commentary. These covers are also nice items to include in my philatelic exhibits about libraries. 

When I first began collecting these covers I came across an article from the Fall 1993 issue of The Heliograph, the journal of the Postal History Foundation in Tucson, AZ, which described a donation to the Foundation of community advertising covers.  The donation was from Charles Nettleship Jr. who had amassed a collection of 1204 community advertising covers (145 of these were photocopies).  According to the article all states except Hawaii were represented in the collection.  The largest percentage came from the Midwest (43%) followed by the East (30), then the West (20%) and finally the South (7%).  The article indicated that the largest number of covers were from the 1901 to 1910 period with the earliest from 1800 and the latest from 1975.

I have 18 Wisconsin community advertising covers and I thought an article about these covers might be a possibility for the Badger Postal History journal of the Wisconsin Postal History Society of which I am a member. While working on the article I contacted Valerie Kittel, Librarian of the Postal History Foundation to see if the Foundation still had the covers. She indicated that the collection had been sold.  The good news, however, was that along with the collection came an index card file in which Nettleship had meticulously described each cover.  This information had been transferred by the Postal History Foundation to a printed document which listed all the covers by state. Valerie graciously sent me the part of the document which included the entries for Wisconsin. With this information I was able to substantially improve my article “Wisconsin’s Community Advertising Covers” which was included in the November 2021 issue of Badger Postal History.  I have included selected examples of community advertising covers from my collection in this blog post.

Corsicana, TX 

Maquoket, IA