1851 : Flint Ladies Library Association Formed; Establishes Library

March 22, 2023 all-day

On March 22, 1851 a group of women, concerned about the lack of cultural and educational opportunities in their community, met at the home of Maria Smith Stockton. As a result of the meeting, the group adopted a constitution written by Sophia Gotee Jenney that established the Ladies Library Association. They selected the following officers: Maria Smith Stockton – president; Almira Simpson Walker – vice president; Sophia Gotee Jenney – recording secretary; Mary Dodge Miles – treasurer and Hattie Stewart became the first librarian.

Along with a variety of fund raising activities, the founders raised money through member and subscriber dues. In 1853 the Association was incorporated under the presidency of Louisa Smith Payne. The group provided the funds necessary to build a library that was located at Beach and Kearsley Streets. Governor Henry H. Crapo spoke at the dedication of the building on June 30, 1868. He had several daughters who were members of the Association. In 1871, the Association was presented with a copy of the first American edition of John James Audubon’s Birds of America that can be viewed today on the first floor of the Library.

As the City of Flint grew, so did the need for a public library. In 1884, the Association offered to give to the City the building and its contents to be used as a public library for the people of Flint. City officials declined the gift. Fortunately, the Board of the Union School District of Flint did accept the offer and created the first public library.

Source : Flint Public Library, December 16, 2015.

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