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May 29, 2015

Library Endowment Fund Namesakes - Thwing Endowment Funds

The university's libraries have been the beneficiary of almost 200 years of support from individuals and groups via bequests and endowment funds. The first bequest to Western Reserve College in 1828 was a collection of books for the library! These gifts permanently support activities of the library and provide a benefit well beyond a single small gift. Throughout the summer we will highlight some of these funds.

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President Charles Franklin Thwing in 1895

Charles F. Thwing was the longest-serving president of Western Reserve University (1890-1921). Educated at Harvard and Andover Theological Seminary, he was an ordained minister. The university expanded from 2 undergraduate colleges and the Medical School to a full-fledged university with 9 colleges and schools under Thwing's leadership. He was a great supporter of the libraries - fundraising for facilities, donating his personal funds, and leaving part of his personal library to the University Library. His personal papers and office files as president are in the University Archives, a part of Kelvin Smith Library.

President Thwing had said if a building was named for him he hoped it was a library. In 1934 Western Reserve University named its first university-wide library Thwing Hall. See our past blog entry regarding this honor.

He established 3 library endowment funds, and the President Thwing Library Fund was given in his honor by various groups of Mather College at the time of his retirement. In 1929 the Mary Butler Thwing Shallenberger Memorial Library Fund was given by Thwing in memory of his daughter, who was a 1901 graduate of the College for Women (renamed Flora Stone Mather College in 1931). Its original purpose was the purchase of books in German and Philosophy and was later amended by Thwing to be for the purchase of books in modern languages and Philosophy. He pledged $1,000 for the fund and made payments over several years. In his letter of 11/2/1933 which included a payment, he poignantly wrote, “I want to say to you that it has been a deep pleasure to give this money. It brings to my heart the happiness that belongs to parents in building memorials to their children who have gone to heaven. It also bears an intimation of my sense of joy in working with these graduates in establishing this marvellous (sic) fund. Believe me, Ever yours, C.F.T.”

While seemingly a small gift, President Thwing's original $1,000 gift in memory of his daughter has supported scholarly pursuits through the purchase of materials for over 80 years. The other Thwing funds have continued to support the scholarship of CWRU’s students and faculty.

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