Manuscripts and Special Collections

On this day in the archives

August 11th, 2011 at 09:08

Today marks the 92nd anniversary of the death of the Scottish born industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Probably best known now for his funding of around 3,000 public libraries and educational institutions, he was born in Dunfermline and emigrated with his family to the United States in 1848 where he worked in a cotton mill from age 14. From this point he rose through hard work and shrewd investments in the railroad and telegraph business to make his fortune in the iron and steel industry in America.

Andrew Carnegie was deeply influenced by the work of John Bright, the radical reformer and politician who is recorded in the archive of Priscilla McLaren, his sister, here at Nottingham (N Mc). Carnegie also corresponded directly with Sir Henry Norman (1858-1939), the husband of McLaren’s granddaughter, Liberal MP and an influential journalist in Britain.

In a letter to his mother on 6 April 1885, Norman describes his visit to America where he hoped to have an interview with ‘the new President’ [Grover Cleveland] and reports on visit to the iron-works of Andrew Carnegie and partner. Also included in the collection is a letter of introduction from Carnegie to Norman which allowed him access to the foundries. In this document (N Mc 4/80), Carnegie gives Norman permission to view the factory and Norman has noted on the letter that Carnegie owned a number of British newspapers and had recently given a coaching tour of England in the company of the poet Matthew Arnold and novelist William Black.

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