March 7, 1857 — Born today was Louise Whitfield Carnegie, a woman who would grow up to be the wife of philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Daughter of New York City merchant John D. Whitfield, Louise was born in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan.
On April 22, 1887 she married Carnegie at her family’s home in New York City in a private ceremony officiated by a pastor from the Church of the Divine Paternity, a Universalist church to which the Whitfields belonged. At the time of the marriage, Louise was 30; Carnegie was 51. As wedding gifts from her husband, Louise received an approximate annual income of $20,000 and a home (formerly owned by Collis Potter Huntington) at 5 West 51st Street. Louise gave birth to the couple’s only child Margaret, in 1897.
After Carnegie’s death, Louise continued making charitable contributions to organizations including American Red Cross, the Y.W.C.A., the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, numerous World War II relief funds, and $100,000 to the Union Theological Seminary. She spent her summers at Skibo Castle. In 1934, she was honored with the Gold Medal of the Pennsylvania Society.
She died at the age of 89, and is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Words of Wisdom
"On Tuesday, June 24, Mrs. Andrew Carnegie died at her home in New York City, in her eighty-ninth year. This brought to an end a long and exceptional life of great distinction and fine living. Although since the death of her husband in 1919 Mrs. Carnegie had seldom visited Pittsburgh, she was known to many here for her high purpose, kindliness, and nobility of character.
"Notwithstanding the great wealth and prominence of her husband, she played her individual part in all his philanthropies as a counselor and an enthusiastic co-planner in his hopes for the betterment of the human race. She was self-effacing in her own benefactions, which were many, but fully lived up to what she felt to be the responsibilities placed upon her by her opportunities for service. A true lady in the old fashioned sense of the word, she was most gracious and kindly to all with whom she came in contact and could well be taken as an outstanding example of American womanhood."