Andrew Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie (25.11.1835 – 11.08.1919) was a Scottish-American industrialist and one of the most important philanthropists of his era. Carnegie was born in Dunfermline, Scotland, and emigrated to the United States with his parents in 1848. His first job in the United States was as a factory worker in a bobbin factory. Later on he became a bill logger for the owner of the company. Soon after he became a messenger boy.

Eventually he progressed up the ranks of a telegraph company. He built Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Steel Company, which was later merged with Elbert H. Gary’s Federal Steel Company and several smaller companies to create U.S. Steel, which he sold to J.P. Morgan in 1901 for $480 million. With his fortune he devoted the remainder of his life to large-scale philanthropy, with special emphasis on local libraries, world peace, education and scientific research. Andrew Carnegie founded the Carnegie UK Trust which was established in 1913.

The Carnegie UK Trust

Established in 1913 by Scottish-American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to seek:

“Improvement of the well-being of the masses of the people of Great Britain and Ireland by such means as are embraced within the meaning of the word “charitable” and which the Trustees may from time to time select as best fitted from age to age for securing these purposes, remembering that new needs are constantly arising as the masses advance.”

We have sought to deliver this mission in a number of ways over the past 100 years – investing in libraries, public space, further education, social work, children’s rights, rural development and many more.

Early Years

In its early decades the Trust focussed primarily upon the building of libraries, reflecting Andrew Carnegie’s strong commitment to extending equality of opportunity through learning. By the 1920s it had also become a major supporter of adult education, funding the Workers’ Educational Association and the creation of Carnegie College in Leeds, (now part of Leeds Metropolitan University), College Harlec in Wales and Newbattle Abbey college in Scotland. It was also a pioneer advocate of rural development and national parks. During the 1930s it began a longstanding programme of funding social welfare projects addressing issues of poverty, unemployment and urban renewal.


With the outbreak of the Second World War, the Trust established the first of a number of independent national Carnegie Commissions of Inquiry. The first of these examined the nutrition and health of the population during the War. Post 1945 the Trust became a major advocate of comprehensive social work and youth and community services, with leading trustees and Commission members at the time, such as Albemarle, Wolfenden, Younghusband and Titmuss being amongst the leading architects of the British Welfare State.

Arts and Culture

The Trust has also had a longstanding interest in the arts and museums and over the decades funded numerous high profile projects at national and local levels from the restoration of the Book of Kells in Ireland and the creation of the Castle Museum in York, to supporting extensive networks of community and voluntary arts workers. National Inquires in this area included its seminal work on film education and on arts and disability chaired by filmmaker Richard Attenborough.

Tackling Disadvantage

In the nineteen eighties, with a return of high levels of poverty and unemployment in the UK and Ireland, the Trust focussed much of its attention upon national policy and programme initiatives around the Third Age, young people and community and voluntary service.


To mark the Trust’s centenary in April 2013, the book ‘Pioneering Philanthropy’ was released which looks at the broad range of work which the Trust has been involved with including highlights of the Trust’s contribution to the physical, social and cultural landscape of the UK and Ireland. The book is illustrated with material from our archives, tells stories of pioneering initiatives throughout the UK and Ireland, and shows how the Trust has been involved with many developments which have created the world we live in today.


We have digitised the Trust’s minutes and reports from the last 100 years, which means they are now available online for anyone to view. Click here to explore the archive. These materials will be particularly interesting for organisations which have received funding from the Trust in the past.