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Iowa History Daily: January 15 - A Carnegie Library for Iowa

Iowa History Daily: On January 15, 1892, Andrew Carnegie granted the funds for the construction of the Jefferson County Library in Fairfield. The first library funded by Carnegie lacking any personal ties, Fairfield’s stands as one of the first of 1,679 Carnegie Public Libraries constructed across America.

The southeastern Iowa county of Jefferson first founded a library in 1852, initially opening with a collection including roughly 500 volumes. Although circulation grew alongside the collection, the library in Fairfield shifted locations several times during the first few decades.

In 1892, prominent early-Iowa politician James Falconer Wilson (often confused with James “Tama Jim” Wilson) appealed to steel-magnate Andrew Carnegie for help in constructing a permanent library in Fairfield. Carnegie agreed to donate $30,000 to fund the project, and the red-brick building rose over Jefferson County.

Although the building no longer houses the town’s library collection, visitors can still marvel at a true Iowa treasure. The Jefferson County Historical Society operates the Carnegie Historical Museum on the building’s third floor, and the organization also holds events at the site regularly. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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