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Dec. 2: Carnegie Mellon and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Unveil Andrew Carnegie Collection Online


Cindy Carroll        

Carnegie Mellon and Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
Unveil Andrew Carnegie Collection Online

andrewcarnegiePITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University Libraries and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh have created a joint digital archive of Andrew Carnegie materials on the Web at Integrating five physical collections in one searchable full text resource, the site demonstrates a larger vision, which is to facilitate and host a digital repository of Andrew Carnegie materials held by institutions worldwide. The inaugural Andrew Carnegie Collection online was funded by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants from 2007 to 2009.
"The Andrew Carnegie Collection not only includes interesting and plentiful source materials but represents a great opportunity to make a whole that truly is more than the sum of its parts," said Gabrielle V. Michalek, head of the Archives and Digital Library Initiatives Department at Carnegie Mellon University Libraries. "We look forward to getting feedback from users. We especially hope to hear from other Carnegie archivists who might wish to join us."
Greg Priore, archivist and head of the William R. Oliver Special Collection Room at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, said, "If you are interested in Andrew Carnegie, from his rags to riches story, to his impact on our communities through his tremendous philanthropy - rejoice! Digital collaboration is extendable, and we could easily integrate pockets of Carnegiana preserved in archives around the world."
The Andrew Carnegie Collection contains digitized content from archival collections that are physically located in two of the earliest-established Carnegie institutions: the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, founded in 1895, and the University Libraries of Carnegie Mellon University, founded as the Carnegie Technical Schools in 1900. The online archive brings together Carnegie Mellon's Andrew Carnegie and James Bertram collections; the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Andrew Carnegie Benefaction Photographic Collection; the Carnegie Correspondence Collection, which pertains to the building of the Main Library and the original museum buildings, and their development and growth; and the Margaret Barclay Wilson Collection of pamphlets and other writings penned by Carnegie, including Gospel of Wealth, Simplified Spelling Reform and the League of Peace. Bertram served as Carnegie's confidential secretary from 1897 to 1914, and was secretary for the Carnegie Corporation of New York from 1911 until 1934. Wilson was Carnegie's biographer and a trusted family friend.
Users of the integrated Andrew Carnegie Collection will be able to access numerous photographs; listen to Carnegie speak; read his writings and other documents that detail his provision of libraries, church organs and scholarships, and his founding of Carnegie Tech; and the work of many Carnegie institutions. Digitization makes it possible for users to search and find related materials in all of the collections, and to see, hear, use and study them at any computer with Internet access.
The collection also reveals the surprising breadth of Carnegie's experiences, activities and interests. Universally recognized as a captain of the iron, steel and railroad industries, he firmly believed that it was the duty of the wealthy to help others better themselves and to benefit society as a whole.
Carnegie held strong opinions about many things, and he wrote, spoke and contributed to support a variety of causes throughout his life. He opined in print for the first time at the age of 17, arguing in the Pittsburgh Dispatch that he and fellow telegraph messengers be permitted to use a local lending library, which, at the time, was open only to young men in mechanical and other trades. That successful argument launched a lifetime of opinionated writing on issues and politics of the day, and the benefits gained from free access to Col. James Anderson's Mechanics' and Apprentices' Library spurred unparalleled philanthropy toward libraries and education.
Carnegie's personal experience taught him that education was the key to success and productive life, and his primary philanthropic passion was to give all people free access to information. To that end, he established thousands of public libraries and educational institutions all over the world. He fought for education reforms as fundamental as enabling education for African Americans and working-class women and as quirky as spelling reform, by which he hoped to create a universal language to end misunderstandings and avoid wars.
The Andrew Carnegie Collection is available for free on the Carnegie Mellon site ( and in the Access Pennsylvania Digital Repository,