The Lawson McGhee Library of Knoxville, Tennessee opened the Free Colored Carnegie Branch in 1918 to provide services for the city's African American residents. Charles Warner Cansler, a noted African American teacher and lawyer, helped secure a gift of $10,000 from Andrew Carnegie for the branch's construction. The Free Colored Carnegie Branch remained in operation until 1961. In 1930, the Lawson McGhee Library began offering services to African Americans at a second location, the Murphy Branch Library. The Murphy Branch is still in operation. The Lawson McGhee Library now serves as the central library for the Knox County Public Library System.
See related posts: The Negro Branch of the Carnegie Library of Nashville (Nashville, Tennessee) ; The Colored School Department of the Cossitt Library (Memphis, Tennessee); and The Howard Branch of the Chattanooga Public Library (Chattanooga, Tennessee).
Charles Warner Cansler was the son of Laura Ann Scott Cansler. A native of North Carolina, Laura Ann Scott Cansler was the first African American teacher in Knoxville, Tennessee. In 1864, Mrs. Cansler opened the Burnside School, a school for African Americans. The school was named for General Ambrose Everett Burnside, a Civil War general and U.S. senator (Republican - Rhode Island).
See: McRary, Amy. "Laura Ann Cansler Was Knoxville's First African American Teacher." Knoxnews.com. Knoxville News Sentinel, 29 Dec. 2012. Web. 1 Jan. 2013. ; Cotham, Steve. "Local Black History: Charles Warner Cansler." Knoxnews.com. Knoxville News Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2012. ; "Burnside, Ambrose Everett (1824-1881)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present. United States Congress, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2013.
On December 29, 2012, a story written by Erica Taylor on Laura Ann Scott Cansler was featured in the "Tom Joyner Morning Show's Little Known Black History Fact" column:
Little Known Black History Fact: Laura Ann Cansler (written by Erica Taylor)
Sources: Miller, Ernest I. "Library Services for Negroes in Tennessee." Journal of Negro Education 10.4 (1941): 637. Print. ; Hudson, Earline H. "Library Service to Blacks and Black Librarians in Tennessee." The Black Librarian in the Southeast: Reminiscences, Activities, Challenges. Ed. Annette L. Phinazee. Durham: NCCU School of Library Science, 1980. 104, 109, 112. Print. ; "Knox County Public Library History." About the Library. Knoxville County Public Library, 2007. Web. 19 May 2012. ; Cotham, Steve. "Local Black History: Charles Warner Cansler." Knoxnews.com. Knoxville News Sentinel, 23 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2012. ; "Burnside, Ambrose Everett (1824-1881)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present. United States Congress, n.d. Web. 1 Jan. 2013.