Letters to Andrew Carnegie

Letters to Andrew Carnegie


In 1935, Carnegie Corporation of New York published the Andrew Carnegie Centenary,  a compilation of speeches given by the leaders of Carnegie institutions, family, and close  associates on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Andrew Carnegie’s birth.

Among the many notable contributors in that first volume were Mrs. Louise Carnegie; Nicholas Murray Butler, president of both the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Columbia University; and Walter Damrosch, the conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra whose vision inspired the building of Carnegie Hall. The Andrew Carnegie Centenary not only memorialized Mr. Carnegie, but also highlighted the accomplishments of the many organizations he had left in private hands to be administered for the public good. 

One of the book’s most affecting passages belongs to Henry James, president of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA), an organization Mr. Carnegie helped establish to support educators in their retirement. “We, who in one capacity or another are serving institutions that Mr. Carnegie founded, know well how far in space and in time this one man’s shadow is cast,” Mr. James stated. “And we know, too, how often we turn back to him in our thoughts and then find faith and hope as we lay the forward course by reference to his directions.” Like all Andrew Carnegie’s endeavors — from libraries to peacebuilding organizations — TIAA was established to fill what he saw as a critical societal need. 

Andrew Carnegie died on August 11, 1919. To mark this centennial, the leadership of the institutions he founded offer this collection of letters as a tribute to the continuing impact of his philanthropy. Like the earlier volume, this new book is meant as a reflection on a century of effort to achieve Andrew Carnegie’s enduring vision. It also constitutes a rededication by the Carnegie family of institutions to their singular mission to achieve “real and permanent good in the world” as they strive to “lay the forward course” into the future.