DURING THE DECADE beginning with 1890 periodicals for the young were numerous and widely circulated. St. Nicholas, published by the Century Co. of New York, and edited by Mary Mapes Dodge, was continuing its career, undoubtedly the finest of the monthly magazines for young readers. In the weekly field the Youths’ Companion, published by Perry Mason in Boston, was the acknowledged leader. Its contents were of a high order, and it enjoyed an immense circulation for many years. It was finally merged with a Detroit publication called the American Boy. In Boston was also published the closest rival of St. Nicholas, a monthly magazine called Wide Awake, sponsored by D. Lothrop and Co.
In New York Harper’s issued a weekly magazine known as Harper’s Young People. In it was printed a serial entitled “Toby Tyler, or Out with a Circus.” Written by James Otis, it was subsequently issued in book form, ran through many editions, and is still in demand. Frank Leslie published Frank Leslie’s Boys and Girls Weekly, its mainstay being the Jack Harkaway series of stories.
In Philadelphia James Elverson issued a weekly publication known as Golden Days. It contained serials by Harry Castleman, Oliver Optic, Horatio Alger, Jr., and other popular writers for the young, and was a highly successful financial venture. Its leading rival was a similar publication known as Golden Hours, published in New York. These papers followed the example set many years earlier by Oliver Optic’s Magazine and maintained correspondents’ columns and various literary and other contests, directly appealing to the individual and bringing him in contact with other readers. Correspondence circles were formed among the subscribers, and these led to clubs formed in all parts of the country. Golden Hours outlasted its rival, and a member of one of its clubs suggested the idea of issuing a small paper to serve as the organ of his particular club. The idea caught fire, and hundreds of these club papers were issued. They were not literary, their contents being almost entirely made up of club notes and personal items.
In 1895 one of these “Golden Hours Club” members was William H. Greenfield of Philadelphia. Fourteen years old at the time, he was a boy of considerable literary ability and executive vision. He conceived the idea of a union of these scattered club papers and editors into one national organization, and with apparently no associated planners he announced the formation of the United Amateur Press Association.
Greenfield at that time had no knowledge of amateur journalism as it then existed nor of the National Amateur Press Association. His organization was, therefore, in no sense a rival of the N.A.P.A. in the beginning, nor did it ever seriously become so. Its members were nearly all much younger than the members of the N.A.P.A., and many of them later became members of the older organization. It thus became in the course of its long and rather stormy career a rather valuable recruiting and training ground for N.A.P.A. members.
Among the prominent leaders in the National A.P.A. who came to it from the United Association might be mentioned William R. Murphy, Charles W. Hems, Edward M. Lind, William C. Ahlhauser, Howard P. Lovecraft, Frank A. Kendall, Vincent B. Haggerty, W. Paul Cook, Edward F. Suhre and Clyde G. Townsend, all of whom became Presidents of the National A.P.A.; and George A. Alderman and Townsend also became National Official Editors. Among other United recruits were C. A. A. Parker, Harry M. Konwiser, Harry L. Lindquist, Paul J. Campbell, Franklyn C. Wedge, Samuel E. Loveman and, among the young ladies, Flora S. Emory, Hazel B. Pratt, Edna Hyde, Litta L. Voelchert, Helene E. Hoffman, Amanda E. Frees, Ethel May Johnson and Pearl K. Merritt.
Young Greenfield appointed himself President of his new organization and also all the rest of the officials and also wrote the code of by-laws. His tastes were literary, and the standard he held up was above the level of the majority of the “Club” papers. The Association did not grow rapidly, but slowly increased in membership. It was decided to hold a formal election of officers by mail. Green-field desired to be Secretary, but was defeated for the office, and never afterwards held any office in the Association.
The initiation fee was fixed at 10 cents, and the dues were made 10 cents a quarter. At the end of the first year the Association had 81 members. Edward H. Weigel, residing in Harrisburg, Pa., was the first elected President, and T. H. Longenecker, of the same city, Official Editor. President Weigel had a great deal to do with shaping the work of the new Association along literary and serious lines. Bits and Chips, published by Frank E. Merritt, Jr., of Utica, N. Y., was appointed official organ, for it was not until August, 1901, that the Association established an official organ of its own, known as the United Amateur.
As the second election and first convention of the Association drew near, a spirited campaign for the various offices was in progress. Greenfield was again a candidate for Secretary. Frank E. Merritt, Jr., was a presidential candidate. He was the publisher of the finest paper at the time and one of the ablest editors, and was inspired by lofty ideals of journalistic enterprise. His opponent was J. Fred Crosson, of Philadelphia, editor of the Courier. The convention was to be held in Crosson’s city, which gave him an advantage. The convention, largely attended, was addressed by Col. A. K. McClure, editor of the Philadelphia Times, and John De Morgan of the Golden Hours staff, sent by that publication to represent it at the convention. Crosson triumphed over Merritt by a small majority, Greenfield was again defeated for Secretary, and James C. Bresnahan, of Jersey City, N. J., was elected Official Editor, Bits and Chips being chosen as the official organ.
At the 1898 convention, held in Milwaukee, Bresnahan was promoted to the presidency. He was at that time residing in Indianapolis and satisfied the demand of the western members that that section should have official recognition. During the ensuing year the laureate competition was inaugurated, embracing awards in poetry, essays, stories and editorials. Beautiful certificates were printed to be given the winners. These laureateships were awarded at the 1899 convention, held in New York. Greenfield, unsuccessful in the political arena, triumphed in the literary field, winning the story, essay and editorial laureateships, Dwight Anderson, of Cleveland, Ohio, securing that award for poetry. The work of Anderson and William R. Murphy, of Philadelphia, afterwards President of the National A.P.A., and others raised the literary standard of the Association to a high level. The Association during 1898-99 enjoyed one of its brightest periods.
At the New York convention in 1899, however, Samuel DeHayn of Philadelphia was elected President. A man of limited literary ability, he was largely a figure-head as President. During his administration a curious situation arose, many unusual actions were taken, all leading up to the first of those divisions which mark the record of this Association. Bitter rivalry arose between the members of the local clubs of New Jersey and New York. This led up to a series of charges being brought against Harry M. Konwiser, of Newark, N. J., editor of the Bomb. A formal trial was held before the Board of Directors, each side being represented by counsel. The decision was evidently based upon partisan lines, as Ex-President Bresnahan of New York voted for acquittal, and Charles W. Hems and Edwin Hadley Smith of New Jersey for conviction. The friends of Konwiser at once set out to reverse the situation and to reinstate him. This led to a bewildering series of resignations, suspensions and removals from office, upon a variety of grounds, many of these charges not being recognized, and two sets of officers acting simultaneously.
Secretary Thomas McKee, of Butler, Pa., first suspended Heins, one of the Directors, for non-payment of dues. President DeHayn insisted that Hems be restored to membership. McKee retaliated by suspending President DeHayn from membership for non-payment of dues, and recognized the Vice-President, Guy N. Phillips, of Sioux City, Iowa, editor of the Westerner, as President.
Charges were preferred against McKee, and President DeHayn suspended him from office, pending the action of the Directors. McKee was tried before a reorganized Board of Directors and found guilty, and DeHayn appointed J. William Townsend, of Long Island City, editor of the United Amateur, Secretary Townsend’s paper, although having that name, was not the official organ, but President DeHayn removed the Little Star, of Mankato, Minn., as the official organ because it refused to recognize him as President, and appointed Townsend’s paper in its stead. Thus practically two organizations existed, each claiming to be the United Amateur Press Association. DeHayn’s refusal to recognize McKee’s suspensions from membership was based upon the reading of the by-laws, that “Dues shall be payable in July. Every member indebted for dues shall be dropped from membership before election.” He took the position that “every person whose name appears upon the membership list last Fall has a right to be a member until he fails to pay his dues next July, when the election occurs.”
At the New York convention Boston was apparently the almost unanimous choice for the next meeting of the Association. But President Bresnahan, to the astonishment of everybody, ruled the nomination out of order. An amendment to the constitution adopted the day before had provided that conventions should be held alternately in the East and West. It was argued that this provision, according to the terms of the constitution, did not go into effect until the following convention, and President Bresnahan’s ruling was appealed from. The ayes and noes upon the appeal appeared equal and a roll-call vote was called for. This resulted in the decision of the President being over-ruled by one majority, and Boston was elected.
Near the end of May, 1900, it became apparent that the amateurs in Boston were in sympathy with the DeHayn faction, and their support would give it the victory. The President had power to change the meeting place if “the convention city’s activity fails to insure a successful convention.” The New Jersey members asserted that the United members in Boston were too few to warrant a successful gathering, and prevailed upon President Phillips to change the place of meeting to Jersey City, N. J. This was taken as an insult by the Boston amateurs, who had prepared an elaborate program for the convention, and J. Bernard Lynch, the chairman of the reception committee, made a spirited protest.
Many of the sincere well-wishers of the Association regretted the state of affairs and endeavored to arrange a compromise which would bring the two factions together. A meeting was arranged at which the leading representatives of both sides were present. Neither side would give up its place of meeting, but a plan of action was agreed upon by which identically the same official action would be taken by both conventions, and thus harmony would be restored. Charles W. Hems, Edwin Hadley Smith and Otto W. Henschell, representing the DeHayn faction, and James C. Bresnahan, James A. Clerkin and James M. Reilly, Jr., representing the Phillips wing, met in a hotel in New York City and agreed upon a list of officers made up of equal members of each faction. This “Harmony Ticket,” as it was called, named Charles W. Hems as President; Joseph B. Lynch, Vice-President; James A. Clerkin, Secretary; Otto W. Henschell, Official Editor; and Samuel DeHayn, Thomas McKee and Guy N. Phillips, Directors.
Of course, this arrangement was without official sanction and was not binding upon the members, but it was entered into in good faith by leaders of both sides, actuated by an earnest wish to have the Association once more united and prosperous. They felt that some such action must be taken to ensure the existence of an undivided organization. They also felt that to carry it through, the proxy votes must be excluded. They felt that the emergency warranted this action, and technical reasons were found in both bodies for rejecting all votes of absent members.
Early in the year Dwight Anderson, of Cleveland, Ohio, the poet laureate became a candidate for President. He was one of the ablest authors ever connected with the Association, but in April he withdrew from the field. This left the way open for the “Harmony Ticket.” The Jersey City convention was called to order by President Phillips, reports of officers were read, and the laureateships awarded, after which the convention adjourned until the next day.
It developed that decided opposition to the adoption of the “Harmony Ticket” had arisen. It was, of course, not binding upon any one, feelings ran high, and desire for office entered in. Bresnahan, Reilly and Clerkin made a strenuous effort to have the arrangement carried through, but they felt themselves beaten, and according to a pre-arranged plan they telegraphed to Edwin Hadley Smith at Boston that the plan would not go through. This telegram was not delivered to Smith by the hotel clerk until after a delay. The amateurs meeting in Boston, therefore, having received no word from Jersey City, took it for granted that the arrangement was successful, and they carried it out to the letter.
The next day at Jersey City Ex-President Bresnahan was prevailed upon to accept the presidency and he was elected. Phillips was made Secretary, Konwiser Official Editor, Charles E. Wing, Treasurer, and Floyd R. Switzer, Vice-President. The attendance was not large, and with the exception of President Phillips all the delegates came from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
The Boston convention, attended by 30 members, was presided over by President DeHayn. When the election of officers was declared in order Henschel obtained the floor and in an eloquent speech pled for harmony and the welfare of the United and nominated the ticket agreed upon. The amateurs assembled had no doubt but that the same set of officers would be elected at Jersey City. After the convention, however, President Hems removed from office Clerkin, Reilly, McKee, Phillips and Wing, compromise candidates who refused to acknowledge Hems as President.
The Boston faction would seem to have had the greatest claim to legality, and was apparently supported by a majority of the old members. It had faithfully endeavored to heal the breech, electing to office many of its bitterest opponents. But after the convention dissensions arose among its leaders. Resignations followed. One issue of an official organ was published, but before a year went by the Hems organization passed out of existence.
President Bresnahan felt compelled in September to resign because of the condition of his health, and the Vice-President, Floyd R. Switzer, of Utica, N. Y., became President. The strongest element in the year’s administration was the official organ, the Dewey, published by Charles E. Wing from Twinsburg, Ohio. This journal was a publication of much merit, with a high literary standard.
At the Minneapolis convention next year a step long advocated was taken by which the Association from 1901 published its own official organ. The initial number of the United Amateur was issued by the Official Editor, Albert E. Cull, of Jersey City, N. J. Cull resigned after publishing one number, and James M. Reilly, Jr., of the same city, was appointed in his place. Reilly had been one of the earliest and most persistent advocates of having the Association publish its own organ, and his issues of the United Amateur were excellent models of a satisfactory official organ.
The 1901 convention was not so largely attended as some, but its delegates came from widely separated sections of the country, and the meeting was truly representative. James M. Reilly, Jr., and Guy N. Phillips, who had succeeded DeHayn as President in 1899, were the presidential candidates, with Reilly apparently in the lead. When the convention came to the election of officers an unusual and graceful exchange of courtesies took place between the rival candidates. Reilly, in an appreciative speech, nominated his opponent, and Phillips, in turn, placed Reilly’s name before the convention. Phillips’ election by a considerable majority was a surprise. During the ensuing year William R. Murphy became editor of the American Gem, published by Charles A. Wendemuth of St. Louis, and made of it a literary magazine of the first rank, containing not only his own work but the best writings of all the leading writers of the Association. Mr. Murphy won the essay and editorial laureateships in 1900, the poetry and story laureateships in 1901 and the poetry laureateship in 1902.
The 1902 convention was held in Philadelphia, and was featured by a large number of letters of greeting from distinguished writers, including Julian Hawthorne, S. Weir Mitchell, Col. A. K. McClure and Cyrus Townsend Brady. James M. Clerkin, of Jersey City, N. J., was elected President, and proved to be one of the ablest executives the Association has had. During the year the membership reached the 300 mark, and over 100 different papers were published. Ira E. Seymour, of Kansas City, Mo., the Vice-President, made such a fine record in recruiting members that at the Minneapolis convention in 1903 he was elected President. Charles H. Russell, of Philadelphia, was made Official Editor, and his volume of the United Amateur contained 104 pages, the largest volume but one ever issued. In this year Flora Stewart Emory came to the front in the literary field; during her career she was awarded two story laureateships, two poetry laureateships, an essay laureateship and many honorable mentions. In June, 1904, there were recorded 271 entries for the various laureateships.
The Baltimore convention in 1904 elected Maurice J. Cohen of St. Paul, Minn., President, and John W. Smith of Philadelphia, Official Editor. The feature of the year was the issuance of the first Year Book of the Association, containing the winning laureate articles, the Historian’s report, statistical tables and other valuable matter. This was issued voluntarily by Hal C. Chase, of Philadelphia, and was financed by subscriptions from a number of members. It was such a success that two years later the Year Book was made an official publication, paid for by the Association.
In 1905 the Association met in Kansas City, Mo., and a year of dissension, turmoil and heated dispute followed, in which every officer but one either resigned or was removed from office and the Association was split into three separate bodies, none of them having a perfect claim to legality. For a time previous to the convention Henry G. Wehking, of St. Louis, was the only candidate for the presidency. Later John W. Smith, of Philadelphia, entered the race, and F. Clifford Davis, of the same city, opposed him.
Those in control of the Kansas City convention were charged with a series of illegal and unfair practices. Davis was declared elected President, but his choice was made possible by the rejection of the proxy ballots. This was done on the ground that the Secretary, Frank D. Murphy, of Ontario, had failed to send a report of eligible voters. Proof was offered later that this report was in the hands of the convention officials, but that they suppressed it. Dissatisfaction was widespread; Davis was removed from office, and Roy Erford, of Seattle, was appointed in his place. Davis, however, refused to recognize his removal and still carried on, but with few followers.
In the meantime Smith had taken advantage of the general feeling that the Kansas City election was illegal and called upon the members to conduct a new election by mail. This was participated in by several times as many members as were present at Kansas City, and Smith was chosen President. Former Secretary Murphy, smarting under a resolution of censure for negligence, passed by the convention, which he deemed unjust, recognized the Smith faction, and turned over to them the official seal, records and funds in his possession.
Erford, upon assuming the presidency, offered a number of concessions to Smith in return for a union of forces, but Smith, feeling his position strong, declined these overtures and claimed that his organization was the legal Association.
Homer P. Pickrell, of Wichita, Kan., elected the Official Editor at Kansas City, issued two numbers of the United Amateur; then he resigned and was succeeded by Louis G. Brechler, of Fennimore, Wis., who sent out three numbers. The department of criticism in the official organ was put upon a firm and authoritative basis under the direction of Henry G. Wehking.
At Milwaukee in 1906 the Erford branch elected President one of the foremost amateurs of the country, William C. Ahlhauser, of the convention city, editor of the Cynosure. Two years later he was chosen President of the National A.P.A. Louis G. Brechler was continued as Official Editor, and published the greatest volume of the United Amateur issued up to that time.
The same year at Philadelphia a harmony meeting was held by the representatives of the Davis and Smith factions, and it was agreed to pool their interests and unite their forces. Presidents Smith and Davis entered the convention hall arm in arm and they were warmly applauded. The proxy votes, about 90 in number, elected officers as follows: President, Edwin B. Swift, New York; Vice-President, Vincent B. Haggerty, Bridgeport; Secretary, H. L. Lindquist, Chicago; Official Editor, Edward F. Daas, Milwaukee. Haggerty resigned as Vice-President, siding with the Ahlhauser organization, and Daas paid no attention to the Swift body. President Swift removed him from office, and appointed Paul H. Appleby of Sedalia, Mo., in his place.
Daas was elected President of the so-called Erford Association at Seattle in 1907, and Pickrell Editor. The United Amateur reached 142 pages during the year, and 100 new members were admitted. The other branch, meeting at Chicago, chose Harry L. Lindquist of that city as President, and Matthew Dietle of New York, Editor. At this convention a committee, headed by Lindquist, was appointed to meet a like committee from the rival faction and endeavor to secure harmony.
At Milwaukee next year Brechler for his fine work as Official Editor and Secretary during the preceding two years was rewarded with the presidency, while the other branch, meeting in the same city, promoted Dietle to be President. A meeting of this group was held in 1909, but interest waned, and it soon after ceased to function. Its rival gained new strength, and at Seattle in 1909 elected S. Parker Rowell of that city President. James F. Dolin was chosen Editor, but resigned after sending out two issues of the official organ, and Vincent B. Haggerty was appointed in his place. Haggerty completed a really fine volume of the United Amateur, and at Chattanooga the next year was elected President by a vote of 61 to 30. During his term the membership rose to 277.
John D. Christiansen, of Milwaukee, Haggerty’ s opponent at Chattanooga, was elected President at Bridgeport next year by a majority of two. Charles 0. A. Kramer of St. Louis was made Editor. A steady advance was made during the year, and an era of quiet prosperity seemed ahead. This was of short duration, however, for in 1912 occurred the third serious division in the Association’s history.
The convention was held that year in La Grande, Ore. The delegates present numbered 11, but the proxy vote was large. There were three candidates for the presidency, Harry Shepherd, of Bellingham, Wash.; Charles Kramer, of St. Louis; and Miss Helene E. Hoffman, of New York City. Miss Hoffman received 56 proxies, Mr. Shepherd, 48; Chester Hoisington, of Leonia, Idaho, six; and Mr. Kramer, three. The dispute centered about these three vote for Kramer. Miss Hoffman had five convention votes and Shepherd six, and the first ballot was announced as totaling 124 votes, with Miss Hoffman having 61, or two short of a majority over all. After the second ballot the proxies were discarded and Shepherd was elected by a vote of six to five.
It was contended by the supporters of Miss Hoffman that Kramer was not a member of the Association at the time, having intentionally permitted his membership to lapse by non-payment of dues, owing to pressure of other duties. Legal authority was quoted for the claim that his three votes should not have been counted, in which case Miss Hoffman would have been elected. Her supporters, therefore, refused to recognized Shepherd as the legal President. As a consequence John D. Christiansen and Miss Hoffman were removed from the Board of Directors, and Roy M. Norcross and Chester 0. Hoisington were appointed in their place. The matter of the legality of Shepherd’s election was referred to the Directors, who decided by a majority vote that it was legal.
In turn President Shepherd preferred charges of insurrection against Miss Hoffman and 12 others, and they were either dishonorably dismissed or suspended from membership. While Miss Hoffman’s course was technically illegal, no doubt, she felt justified in assuming the presidency and rallying to her support all those who deemed such action a political necessity for the good of the Association. Thus there were two separate bodies, each calling itself the United A.P.A.
Miss Hoffman was an able leader, and her followers represented the literary and truly journalistic element. Edward F. Daas, appointed Official Editor, issued a volume of the official organ totaling 100 pages. The critical department was ably conducted by Maurice W. Moe. At the close of her year there were 242 members. Her success was so marked that at Milwaukee in 1913 she was unanimously re-elected.
In the meantime Roy Erford, the moving spirit in the Shepherd organization, worked hard to build up that faction, but its numbers at the close of its first year were few. With the election in 1913, at Bellingham, Wash., of Ernest H. Morris, of Bridgeport, Conn., affairs were brighter. President Morris won respect for his body and built up the membership. In 1914, at a meeting at Norwich, Conn., the example of the rival body was followed, and a woman was placed in the presidential office, Miss Edna G. Thorne, of Napa, Cal., and Mr. Morris served most effectively as Official Editor.
The other organization, meeting at Columbus, Ohio, in 1914, again elected a woman as President in the person of Miss Dora M. Hepner, of that city. Miss Hepner preserved the high ideals of Miss Hoffman, and, in the main, carried out her policies. M. Weddell Hart, of Rocky Mount, N. C., and Paul J. Campbell, of Georgetown, Ill., served as Official Editor. Rocky Mount became an important amateur center. At this time Howard P. Lovecraft, one of the strongest literary forces in amateur journalistic history, began to make his influence felt, conducting the department of criticism.
Rocky Mount saw the next convention. Leo Fritter, of Columbus, Ohio, was chosen President, and Mr. Daas was again Official Editor. In 1916 Paul J. Campbell was made President, and in 1917 Lovecraft, who had been elected Vice-President at Rocky Mount, was promoted to the presidency, the convention being held in his home city, Providence, R. I. President Lovecraft, ably seconded by Miss Verna McGooch, of Greenwich, N. Y., as Official Editor, gained for the Association much prosperity, manifesting great publishing activity and a cultural intent, overshadowing its rival in these respects. The poet Rheinhart Kleiner, of Brooklyn, N. Y., was chosen President in 1918, and another woman President in 1919, Miss Mary Faye Durr, of Marietta, Ohio. But its members began to relax, recruiting was not carried on, interest waned, and this branch of the United, though seeming to have the best claim to lineal descent from the original body, gradually ceased to function, and in 1926 it passed out of existence.
In the meantime the Seattle branch, for so it came to be considered, under the enthusiastic and skillful campaigning of Roy Erford and his associates, had built up an organization numerically strong and imbued with a stock of unbounded energy. Yet its papers were few and it became for a time little more than a correspondence club. But it still clung to many United traditions.
In 1935 great dissatisfaction arose over alleged arbitrary and illegal measures taken by those in power, and a reform organization, known as “The Crusaders,” was formed, led by George Henry Kay, of Little Falls, Minn. Despairing of effecting reform within the organization, and rather than cause another split into two Uniteds, the Crusaders resigned and formed a new Association known as the American Amateur Press Association.
The convention of the United in 1938 was held in Seattle, with 70 members in attendance. President Maurice E. White, of Neon, Ky., was re-elected, as was Irwin O. Brandt, of Greenville, Ohio, as Official Editor. Another split in its forces was reported, a group led by Jeffrey H. Jennings, of Brooklyn, N. Y., claiming to be the legitimate United founded in 1895 by Will H. Greenfield.