Monday, June 27, 2016

Working Men’s Institute - New Harmony


Working Men’s Institute
Working Men’s Institute

A Visit to Harmonie State Park, Indiana
Working Men’s Institute
Philanthropist William Maclure established the Institute in 1838. The Working Men’s Institute inhabited a wing in the Harmonist Church until 1894. In that year, it moved to this impressive building three-story structure on Tavern Street. The Institute at one time comprised 144 Institutes in Indiana and additional sixteen in Illinois at its height. The Working Men's Institute has dwindled to this location. This is the oldest continuously operating library in Indiana. Their founding mission was the dissemination of useful knowledge to working men and their families. That remains their mission today.
William Maclure
William Maclure (October 27, 1763 – March 23, 1840)
A native of Ayr, Scotland, MaClure first came to the United States in 1778. He started as a businessman and traveled in Europe. He traveled to France in 1803 to try to collect debts incurred in the United States during the French Revolution. While in Europe, he began to study geology and became fascinated by it. Upon his return to the United States, he made a geological survey of the country. His work earned him the nickname, "Father of American Geology."
The New Harmony Experiment
He became acquainted with Robert Owen when he visited Owens’s cotton mill in New Lanark, Scotland. He met with Owen again in 1825 and decided to join him in his New Harmony experiment. MacClure joined the "Boatload of Knowledge" that traveled to New Harmony, arriving on the boat Philanthropist in January 1826. From New Harmony, he traveled to Mexico where he died in 1840. The terms of his will set up a trust that established 160 workingman's institutes.
Maclure served as the State of Indiana's first State Geologist. He purchased the Rapp-Owen Granary to use as a museum and laboratory. He was also instrumental in organizing the Working Man's Institute
Working Men's Institute Museum - Old Fly
Working Men's Institute Museum - Old Fly

The Museum
This building serves as a library and museum. The museum fills three rooms on the second floor. There is an elevator up to the museum from the entry room, which is quite impressive. The museum, small as it is, contains a wealth of local artifacts and information. Visitors should budget a couple of hours for the museum. The exhibits include both the skeleton and story of a horse called Old Fly that had an interesting history. Serving his rider in the Civil War, Old Fly died a ripe old age here in New Harmony.
Working Men’s Institute - New Harmony
Working Men’s Institute - New Harmony
The Library
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, Markers & Museums - Southwest Edition
Exploring Indiana's Historic Sites, 
Markers & Museums 
 Southwest Edition
The Library serves patrons in New Harmony, Harmonie Township and the members of Alexandrian Public Library in Mount Vernon, and the Poseyville Carnegie Public Library in Poseyville. Services include public computers, photocopies, fax machine. The library charges a fee for copy and fax services. Tax and voter registration forms are also available at the library. The library also includes the Branigin Archive and the Lilly Archive. The Branigin Archive includes documents and records from the two communal societies that operated in New Harmony, the Harmonists and the Owenites. The Lily Archive is an extensive collection of rare books. Books from William Maclure, David Dale Owen, Richard Owen, Robert Dale Owen, as well as other prominent figures are included in the Archive.
The Working Men's Institute hosts several events throughout the year. For more information, contact:

Working Men’s Institute Museum & Library
407 Tavern Street
New Harmony
Excerpted from the author's book:
A Visit to Harmonie State Park, Indiana
Working Men’s Institute - New Harmony
Working Men’s Institute - New Harmony


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