Philanthropy of Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) came from Scotland to the United States in 1848, and his family settled in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. At age thirteen, Andrew 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. During his lifetime, Carnegie gave away over $350 million.

Many persons of wealth have contributed to charity, but Carnegie was perhaps the first to state publicly that the rich have a moral obligation to give away their fortunes. In 1889, he wrote The Gospel of Wealth, in which he asserted that all personal wealth beyond that required to supply the needs of one's family should be regarded as a trust fund to be administered for the benefit of the community.

His philanthropic interests centered around the goals of education and world peace. One of his 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 subsequently spent over $56 million to build 2,509 libraries throughout the English-speaking world.

Carnegie set about disposing of his fortune through innumerable personal gifts and through the establishment of various trusts. Each of the organizations established by Andrew Carnegie has its own funds and trustees and is independently managed.

Carnegie Trusts and Institutions

Carnegie Corporation of New York, founded in 1911 "to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding," is the largest and the most broad in scope of the Carnegie philanthropic organizations.

Carnegie Council on Ethics and International Affairs, founded in 1914 as The Church Peace Union, is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to research and education in the field of ethics and international affairs.

The Carnegie Dunfermline Trust was established in 1903, for betterment of social conditions in Carnegie’s native town. The trust maintains the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, founded in 1910, is a nonprofit organization, conducting programs of research, discussion, education and publication on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy.

The Carnegie Foundation is the owner of the Peace Palace at the Hague, which was founded in 1903 with a gift of over one million dollars from Andrew Carnegie.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, founded in 1905 as the teachers pension fund, is a private operating foundation primarily engaged in education policy studies. In 1918, the Foundation established Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (now TIAA-CREF), initially subsidized by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Carnegie Hero Fund Commission, established in 1904, for recognition of heroic acts performed in peaceful walks of life in the United States and Canada.

The Carnegie Hero Fund Trust, established in 1908, for recognition of heroic acts performed in peaceful walks of life in Great Britain and Ireland. The fund in UK was soon followed by Carnegie Hero Funds in Europe, established during 1909–11 in France, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, and Italy. (The fund in Germany is no longer active.)

Carnegie Institution of Washington, founded in 1902, conducts scientific research, primarily in astronomy, biology, and the earth sciences, and related educational activities.

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are two sister organizations that evolved from the Carnegie Institute founded in 1895. Originally the Institute comprised the Carnegie Library, Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History and Carnegie Music Hall.

Carnegie Mellon University, formed from the 1967 merger of Mellon Institute and Carnegie Institute of Technology, which was founded in 1900 as Carnegie Technical Schools and later became an independent university.

The Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland was established in 1901, for assistance to students, for expansion of the Scottish universities, and for stimulation of research.

The Carnegie United Kingdom Trust was established in 1913 to improve the well-being of the people of Great Britain and Ireland, chiefly through aid to voluntary organizations in community service, the voluntary arts, and heritage, particularly independent museums and village halls.

Some of Carnegie’s notable personal gifts to the public include his construction of Carnegie Hall in 1890, and contributions to the construction of the Pan American Union Building (now called the Organization of American States Building) in Washington, D.C., and the Central American Court of Justice in San José, Costa Rica.