Andrew Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, on November 25, 1835. The son of a weaver, he came with his family to the United States in 1848 and settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. At age thirteen, Carnegie went to work as a bobbin boy in a cotton mill. He then moved rapidly through a succession of jobs with Western Union and the Pennsylvania Railroad. In 1865, he resigned to establish his own business enterprises and eventually organized the Carnegie Steel Company, which launched the steel industry in Pittsburgh. At age sixty-five, he sold the company to J. P. Morgan for $480 million and devoted the rest of his life to his philanthropic activities and writing, including his autobiography.
One of Carnegie's lifelong interests was the establishment of free public libraries to make available to everyone a means of self-education. There were only a few public libraries in the world when, in 1881, Carnegie began to promote his idea. He and the Carnegie Corporation of New York subsequently spent over $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the English-speaking world.
After termination of this program in 1917, the Corporation continued for about forty years an interest in the improvement of library services. Other major programs in the Corporation's early history included adult education and education in the fine arts.
During his lifetime, Carnegie gave away over $350 million. Between the years 1899 and 1916 Oklahoma was awarded 25 Carnegie grants to build libraries. One of these grants was given to the University of Oklahoma in Norman in 1903, one of only 108 Carnegie Library grants to Universities in the United States. Of the remaining 24 grants, 10 grants were given to towns that started in Indian Territory and 14 grants were given to towns that started in Oklahoma Territory. Before statehood in November 1907, eight Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory towns were awarded Carnegie grants for public libraries. After statehood in 1907 an additional 16 Carnegie grants for public libraries were given to Oklahoma towns. Andrew Carnegie died in Lenox, Massachusetts, on August 11, 1919.
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