Major Philanthropic Works by Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie philanthropic works | Fueled by his ambition and a huge dose of hard work, Carnegie made an enormous amount of wealth before his late 50s. He then committed the remainder of his life to donating millions of U.S. Dollars of his own money to charitable causes. Andrew Carnegie helped fund almost 3,000 public libraries

Following his retirement from business in 1901, Andrew Carnegie, one of the richest men in the world at the time, devoted the rest of his life to pursuing charitable causes on a full-time basis. He is praised for being one of America’s greatest philanthropists, along with the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet.

In today’s dollars, the $350 million that Andrew Carnegie gave out to charitable causes is worth billions. All in all, it’s been estimated that the amount constituted a huge portion of his wealth, about 90%. In addition to the close to 3,000 public libraries that he helped fund across the globe, he donated an estimated 7,600 organs to churches around the world. At those staggering numbers, he is revered as the largest individual investor in public libraries in America.

Aside education and the promotion of world peace, Carnegie was also involved in science and health. For example, he founded the Carnegie Foundation.

The following are the key philanthropic works of Scottish-born American industrialist Andrew Carnegie:

  • Taking cues from the Enoch Pratt Free Library (1886) (built by American philanthropist and businessman Enoch Pratt) in Baltimore, Maryland, Carnegie is credited with funding the construction of over 3,000 public libraries. His first library opened in 1883 in the Scottish town of Dunfermline.
  • In 1885, he donated half a million dollars to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the construction of a library. He also donated about $250,000 to Allegheny City, Pennsylvania, to construct a music hall and library.
  • Andrew Carnegie donated £50,000 to the University of Birmingham in 1899.
  • In 1900, he donated $2 million to help establish the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh. Today, the university is known as Carnegie Mellon University due to its merger with the Mellon Institute of Industrial Research.
  • With 10 million U.S. Dollars, Andrew Carnegie helped fund the Hooker Telescope at Mount Wilson – a 100-inch (2.5 m) telescope. The project was done in association with the Carnegie Institution and American astronomer George Ellery Hale in 1911.
  • He donated 10 million U.S. Dollars to the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland in 1901. The goal of the fund was to aid scientific research as well as offer scholarships to needy but brilliant and qualified students.
  • In 1913, he donated $10 million to the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust.
  • In 1901, Andrew Carnegie set up a pension funds for his former employees at Homestead. Four years later, in 1905, he established a pension fund for American college professors.
  • In 1891, he used his own money (about $1.1 million) to build the Carnegie Hall, a concert venue, in New York City.
  • Andrew Carnegie was an immense benefactor of the Tuskegee Institute for African-American education which was under renowned African-American scholar Booker T. Washington. He also partnered with Booker T. to create the National Negro Business League.
  • In 1904, he founded the Carnegie Hero Fund for the U.S. and Canada.
  • In 1903, he gave $1.5 million to the construction of the Peace Palace at The Hague in the Netherlands.
  • He funded a histological laboratory in Bellevue Hospital Medical College in New York – now called the Carnegie Laboratory.

Andrew Carnegie philanthropic works | Using millions of dollars of his own money, Carnegie helped fund libraries across 47 US states. In addition to the U.S., Carnegie built libraries in Britain, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, including Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, and Fiji.

More Andrew Carnegie Facts

Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie statue in his birth town Dunfermline, Scotland

Carnegie served on the boards of the university and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Between 1902 and 1907, he served as the Lord Rector of University of St. Andrews.

In an 1889 essay titled “The Gospel of Wealth”, Andrew Carnegie argued that charity was a moral obligation for the richest class that promoted the welfare and happiness of the average man.

Carnegie was a big admirer of progressive taxation and estate tax. He was known for encouraging other rich people into becoming philanthropists

He claimed to be a promoter of labor rights of his industry even though he ruthlessly clamped down on the formation of trade unions in many of his steel mills, particularly the Homestead mill in Pennsylvania. In 1892, at least ten men died at his Homestead plant following bloody clashes between striking union workers and body guards recruited by the general manager of the Homestead plant Henry Clay Frick.  The deaths included seven strikers and three Pinkertons, while hundreds other were injured.

Andrew Carnegie was in favor of the abolition of monarchy around the world, particularly in England. He even bought a number of newspapers in England to voice his opposition to the English monarchy.

Carnegie was a contributor to a number of magazines, including The Nineteenth Century and North American Review.

He was an honorary member of the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia in Boston, Massachusetts.

Carnegie lived with his mother until she died in 1886. After her death, he married Louise Whitfield – 21 years his junior – in 1887. The couple gave birth to a daughter called Margaret in 1897.

Carnegie received several honors from major cities across Europe, including the Freedom of the City of Glasgow in 1901, the Freedom of the city of St Andrews in 1902, and the Freedom of the City of Belfast in 1910.

Carnegie Hall in New York

Books written by Andrew Carnegie

Carnegie penned down books like The Empire of Business (1902), Wealth (1889),  and Triumphant Democracy (1886). Image: Carnegie, c. 1878

In 1886, he wrote Triumphant Democracy, a book which praises the republican system in America and criticizes the British monarchical system. Owing to the criticisms, the book fared better in the U.S. than the UK, as it sold over 40,000 copies in the US alone.

Carnegie’s book, Wealth (known in the UK as The Gospel of Wealth), was published in 1889. The book encouraged readers to gather and accumulate wealth so that the wealth could then be distributed to the poorer classes. In the book, Carnegie stated philanthropy was a noble calling that made life worthwhile.

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