Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr.
Alexander Joy Cartwright, Jr., trained as a clerk in a bank, was the “Father of Baseball.” He was a volunteer fireman in New York City before moving to Hawaii in 1849. King Kamehameha III appointed him Chief Engineer of the Fire Department of the City of Honolulu. As one of the founders of the Honolulu Library Reading Room Association, later renamed Friends of the Library of Hawaii, Cartwright objected to the exclusion of women from membership. By the rules, Queen Emma and Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop were not eligible for membership. In a letter to his brother Alfred, Cartwright wrote,
“The idea keeps the blessed ladies out and the children. What makes us old geezers think we are the only ones to be spiritually and morally uplifted by a public library in this city?”
The constitution was amended so that women could join.
History of Friends
The Friends of the Library of Hawaii is a nonprofit organization whose primary objective is to maintain free public libraries in the State of Hawai‘i, to promote extension of library services throughout the State of Hawai‘i and to increase the facilities of the public library system of Hawai‘i by securing materials beyond the command of the ordinary library budget. Other objectives are to focus attention on libraries and to encourage and accept, by bequest or gift, donations of books, manuscripts, money, and other appropriate material that can enrich the cultural opportunities available to the people of Hawai‘i.
The Friends of the Library of Hawaii was founded in 1879 by Honolulu’s business leaders, merchants, and Hawaiian royalty as the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association (HLRRA). The illustrious members of the original organization included King Kalakaua, Queen Kapiolani, Queen Emma, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, Sanford B. Dole, and James Campbell. The Honolulu Reading Room was formally opened in a building on Fort Street in March 1879. August 1884 saw the formal opening of the new building that the HLRRA had built at the corner of Hotel and Alakea Streets. The book collection had grown to a total of 4,000 volumes through the generous donations of books and funds by HLRRA members and the general public.
In 1909, through the efforts of the association and Governor Walter J. Frear, a $100,000 grant was obtained from Andrew Carnegie to build Hawai‘i’s first public library. The Hawai‘i State Library opened in 1913 at its present location on South King Street.
After the opening of the library, the Association remained active in raising funds for the purchase of books and other supplies for the library. In 1938 another organization, “The Friends of the Library,” was formed. It became evident that the two organizations had the same goals and objectives and in 1945 they merged and became The Friends of the Library of Hawai‘i.