Susan Swetnam

The Role of Women’s Clubs in Establishing Carnegie Public Libraries in Idaho

Around the turn of the century, ten Idaho towns successfully applied (and two unsuccessfully applied) for public library building grants from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. What is interesting is not that the grants were awarded (Carnegie gave money to most towns that applied) but that the citizens of those Idaho towns, many of which were relatively poor at the time of application, voted to tax themselves 10% of Carnegie’s award annually for library support (as Carnegie stipulated). This slide presentation explores the internal politics of Idaho’s Carnegie library grants, with emphasis on the role of women’s groups and on other issues such as the local dynamics, which made an application successful or unsuccessful. Though the presentation’s primary focus is statewide, groups interested in a particular town’s application can request special emphasis on local details (Boise, Burley, Caldwell, Idaho Falls, Lewiston, Moscow, Mountain Home, Nampa, Pocatello, Preston, Twin Falls, Wallace).