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Library History

Read how this library was established and how it has evolved to become such an important part of our community.

Edward Arthur Mellinger was born in 1874 near Morning Sun, Iowa, where he attended a one-room country school and graduated from the Morning Sun High School.  In 1891, he enrolled at Iowa State College (now University) in Ames, where he earned a degree in Electrical Engineering.

In his academic work, he was particularly interested in the science of telephone communications, which was then in its infancy.  This interest led to a lifelong association with the telephone industry.  Mr. Mellinger made significant contributions to many phases of the growing telephone industry, serving as a skilled engineer who supervised the development, manufacture, and installation of telephone systems in many parts of the world.  He was also an effective salesman and spent a portion of his career in this capacity.

In spite of demands placed on him by these responsibilities, Mr. Mellinger also found time to engage in experimental work which resulted in his obtaining 17 industry-related U.S. Patents for equipment which is still in use today.

Shortly before his death in 1933, Mr. Mellinger established the Mellinger Investment Company, which he hoped would ultimately be the source of an endowment for educational purposes.  Following the stock market crash of the early 1930s, he concluded there would not be sufficient funding for the foundation he had in mind.  He subsequently left what remained of the Mellinger Investment Company to his two sisters, Maude Luther Mehaffey and Inez A. Hensleigh.  The current library was a memorial gift from his two sisters that was dedicated on May 30, 1937.

Years later, Mrs. Hensleigh, now the owner of all the stock following the death of her sister, recalled her brother's interest in establishing an educational fund.  Accordingly, she arranged for the company's assets, plus the residue of her own estate, to be used to create the Edward Arthur Mellinger Educational Foundation, Inc. upon her death.

Mrs. Hensleigh enlisted the assistance of Robert J. Clendenin, Sr., an attorney, and Lloyd C. Stevenson, a certified public accountant.  They served as president and secretary treasurer respectively from the date of incorporation until 1981.  When Mr. Clendenin retired, Mr. Stevenson succeeded him as president and treasurer.  Mr. Clendenin died in 1983, and Mr. Stevenson, who became president emeritus in January of 1986, died in 1992.

For more information go to the Iowa Historical Society

This resource is supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by State Library of Iowa.