Madelyn Cooner, a fourth grader at Jefferson Elementary, was recently announced as one of five finalists in the 2018 Save Texas History Contest, sponsored by the Texas General Land Office. The contest was open to the state’s fourth and seventh grade students and asked writers, “What history in your community is worth saving?”
Maddie wrote on the Jefferson Carnegie Library. While Grand Prize winners received $500, the five additional finalists in each grade received $100 courtesy of the Rotary Club of Austin and the Sons of the Republic of Texas, and a Texas flag that flew over the northernmost point of the Republic of Texas (in present-day Wyoming). All winners and finalists also received Save Texas History backpacks and a replica of an historic map from the GLO Archives map.
One of Jefferson’s Greatest Treasures
By MADELYN COONER
JES Fourth Grader
History worth saving in our community is our Jefferson Carnegie Library. The Jefferson Carnegie Library was built in 1907 with grant money donated by Andrew Carnegie.
Andrew Carnegie was a wealthy man that made a fortune from his ownership of the Carnegie Corporation, a leading steel manufacturer in the 1800’s. He donated more than 40 million dollars to various communities across the world. Mr. Carnegie felt guilty to have such wealth and not share his fortune with those in need; so before his death he started donating money to communities to build libraries for people that lived in them. Carnegie Libraries were built between 1883 and 1929; and there were 2,509 libraries built worldwide and thirty-four libraries built in Texas. Jefferson was one of the lucky cities in Texas to get such a donation. Jefferson more than likely received the grant because it was one of the major port cities in Texas in the early 1900’s. The Jefferson Carnegie Library is one of two Carnegie Libraries still in use as a library in the state of Texas. Jefferson Carnegie Library had the price of 8,750 dollars to build, but it was totally worth it!
The reason people needed a library in 1907 is because people did not have the technology that we have today. For example, they did not have the internet or google to find information like we have today. Information was not that easy to find. Books were the way everyone found information in the 1800s- early 1900s. Books were the internet in the 1800s and early 1900’s. The community library provided information that was not available to the community before the library was open. Amazon was not around in the early 1900’s like is today. Not all people could afford to buy books from a book store; most of the time the only way people got books was if someone let them borrow one or gave them one. Citizens could now check a book out from the library and take it home to read and bring back when they were done reading it instead of having to buy every book that they need. Now every citizen had access to information available in books in the Library.This library helped Jefferson come from a old steamboat town to a new age town because the people were able to learn and get an education.Education helped people get good jobs and earn money.It gave a foundation of education to local citizens which led to greater and faster development and innovation.The education also helped with bringing technology to our small town.
The Carnegie Library had a large effect on the communities that it was built for. A lot of people could not read and write in the early 1900’s. For example, in 1880 seventeen out or one hundred people over the age of 14 could not read in the United States. By 1940 after a lot of Libraries were built across America only three out of one hundred United States citizens could not read and write. This shows the effect that Library had on our community and other communities that had a Carnegie Library.
Today our Jefferson Carnegie Library has been open for one-hundred twelve years. You can still get a library card and check out books and other items from the library to learn about anything you are interested in. Our library contains many books about the City of Jefferson’s history as well as Texas history. It is one of the treasures of our town. That is why is the Jefferson Carnegie Library is worth saving.
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