Monday, December 12, 2011

Alvin F. Harlow (1875-1963)

Author, Historian, Folklorist, Biographer, Artist, and Businessman
Born March 10, 1875, Sedalia, Missouri
Died November 17, 1963, the Bronx, New York

Alvin Fay Harlow was born on March 10, 1875, in the central Missouri railroad town of Sedalia and started work at age eighteen in an express office. He attended Franklin College in central Indiana, where he was president of his fraternity, the college literary society, and the senior class. He also served as editor and founder of his class annual. Harlow graduated from Franklin College in 1899. The following year, the federal census taker found him living with his parents in North Vernon, Indiana. Nicknamed "The City of Railroads," North Vernon is near the location of the first railroad laid down west of the Allegheny Mountains and the first train robbery in the United States, perpetrated by the Reno Gang. Coincidentally, both Sedalia and North Vernon were threatened by Confederates during the Civil War.

Harlow married in Tennessee in 1909. Between 1909 and 1913, he worked for the Grand View Coal and Timber Company in that state. Nineteen twenty found him Chattanooga and employed as a commercial artist, perhaps at the Pennebaker-Turley Printing Company, where he had worked in 1917 when he filled out his draft card. Harlow was interested in Appalachian culture and folkways. He even made topical and educational films about life in the mountains.

By 1930, Harlow had completed his eastward trek, settling in New York City and writing for a living. His book titles comprise a long list. Many concern railroads, canals, communications, and history in general. He also wrote biographies of Andrew Carnegie, Bret Harte, and Theodore Roosevelt, among others. His contributions to the Dictionary of American Biography amounted to 100 articles. Harlow topped that with 300 articles for the Dictionary of American History.

Harlow also wrote non-fiction for Weird Tales. In a series that ran in every issue from September 1927 to October 1929, he wrote about "What Folks Used to Believe," from "The Indestructible Bone" to "The Roc." Harlow was admired as a writer. His articles must have made for fascinating reading. I should mention that his twenty-six works in prose for "The Unique Magazine" place him in a tie for fifteenth place among its most prolific writers. I should mention also that all of Harlow's articles were illustrated by Hugh Rankin.

In addition to Weird Tales, Harlow wrote for pulp titles such as Complete Detective Novel Magazine, All-Story Weekly, and Railroad Magazine. His work also appeared in slick magazines such as Collier's, Esquire, and The Saturday Evening Post, and in newspapers such as the New York Times and the New York Herald-Tribune. His co-author on the article "She Fought for Her Husband’s Life" for Woman’s World (May 1935) was his wife Dora Shockley Harlow.

Franklin College, Harlow's alma mater, granted him an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters. The author was also an honorary member of the New York Historical Society, a fellow of the Society of American Historians, and a member of the Authors League of America and the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society. Harlow died on November 17, 1963, in the Bronx, New York. He was eighty-eight years old.

Alvin F. Harlow's Articles in Weird Tales
"Folks Used to Believe: The Indestructible Bone" (Sept. 1927)
"Folks Used to Believe: Some 'Old Masters' " (Oct. 1927)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Werewolf" (Nov. 1927)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Dragon and His Kinsmen" (Dec. 1927)
"Folks Used to Believe: Conceptions of Deity" (Jan. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Barnacle Goose" (Feb. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Vampire" (Mar. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Familiar" (Apr. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Basilisk" (May 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Fad for Relics" (June 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: Weird Recipes" (July 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: Wonderfully Preserved Relics" (Aug. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Serpent in Eden" (Sept. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Phoenix" (Oct. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Fairy Court" (Nov. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: Lilith" (Dec. 1928)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Resurrecting Snake" (Jan. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: Pope Joan" (Feb. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: May Dew" (Mar. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Unicorn" (Apr. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Cockatrice" (May 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Mouse Legend" (June 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: Salty Superstitions" (July 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Murderer's Touch" (Aug. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Salamander" (Sept. 1929)
"Folks Used to Believe: The Roc" (Oct. 1929)

Further Reading
Alvin Harlow's papers are located at the University of Tulsa and Western Kentucky University. His prolific writings are available still in many different formats.

Alvin F. Harlow wrote fiction and non-fiction. Here's a cover for Fighting Romances (Jan. 1926) with Harlow's byline on the cover. The art is by Leo Sielke, Jr. If the boxer's face looks familiar, it might be for good reason. Sielke illustrated movie magazines, too, and may have used a star as his model. Lon Chaney maybe? Or Joe E. Browne?
Alvin Fay Harlow (1875-1963), photograph courtesy of Ruth Dorrel, Archivist, Franklin College, Franklin, Indiana.

Thanks to Ruth Dorrel, Archivist, Franklin College, for further information on Alvin Fay Harlow.
Text and captions copyright 2011 Terence E. Hanley

2 comments:

  1. HARLOW, ALVIN F(ay) (1875-1963); (about) (chron.)
    * The Battle of the Kettles, (ss) Adventure Oct 10 1924
    * Believers, (ar) Flynn’s Weekly Mar 5 1927
    * The Broken Strand, (sl) All-Story Weekly Mar 20 1920
    * Clowning Through Life (with Eddie Foy), (ar) Collier’s Dec 25 1926, Jan 15 1927
    * The Clue of the Striped Bed-Ticking, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Mar 1930
    * The Dam, (nv) Popular Engineering Stories Apr 1930
    * Dawson Sal (with Chief Caupolican), (ss) Adventure Nov 30 1924
    * Eat It with Smiles, (ar) Strength Dec 1923
    * The Fall River Tragedy, (ts) Mystery Stories Jan 1928
    * Famous Murder Cases, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Nov 1929
    * Famous Murder Cases:
    * ___ The Clue of the Striped Bed-Ticking, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Mar 1930
    * ___ The Masked Burglar, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Aug 1930
    * ___ The Missing Motive, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Sep 1930
    * ___ The Worm That Turned, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine May 1930
    * Famous Unsolved Mysteries:
    * ___ 3. The Fall River Tragedy, (ts) Mystery Stories Jan 1928
    * ___ 4. The Man in the Iron Mask, (ts) Mystery Stories Feb 1928
    * ___ 18. Was He the Czar?, (ts) Mystery Stories Apr 1929
    * Famous Unsolved Myteries:
    * ___ No. 13—"The Fatal Whipcord", (ts) Mystery Stories Nov 1928
    * “The Fatal Whipcord”, (ts) Mystery Stories Nov 1928
    * The Fate of Amy Robsart, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Apr 1931
    * Freak and Fake Postage Stamps, (ar) The Saturday Evening Post Apr 18 1936
    * From Plowboy to Banker, (bg) The New Success Aug 1921
    * The Great Seekonk Case, (pi) Railroad Magazine Apr 1948
    * The Impossible Robbery, (sl) Fighting Romances from the West and East Jan, Feb, Mar 1926
    * The Man in the Iron Mask, (ts) Mystery Stories Feb 1928
    * The Masked Burglar, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Aug 1930
    * The Mink Coat, (ss) Munsey’s Magazine Jul 1926
    * The Missing Motive, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Sep 1930
    * Mystery of the Manhattan Well, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Feb 1931
    * Old Towpaths, (ar) The Saturday Evening Post May 9, May 23 1925
    * People of the Hills, (ar) The Saturday Evening Post Mar 2 1935
    * Second Down, (ss) The Saturday Evening Post Jan 16 1926
    * She Fought for Her Husband’s Life (with Dora Harlow), (ar) Woman’s World May 1935
    * The Three Sisters in Black, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine Dec 1930
    * Vacationing by Motor, (ar) Woman’s World Jul 1935; the ins-and-outs of vacationing in a car.
    * Was He the Czar?, (ts) Mystery Stories Apr 1929
    * The Will That Overcomes Physical Handicaps, (ar) National Pictorial Brain Power Monthly Sep 1921
    * The Worm That Turned, (ar) Complete Detective Novel Magazine May 1930
    _____, as told to
    * End of the Schoolhouse in the Foothills, (ar) The Saturday Evening Post Apr 13 1935
    * The Reminiscences of a Store Detective:
    * ___ The Shoplifters’ Exchange, (cl) Detective Story Magazine Jul 11 1925
    * ___ Why Wealthy Women Become Shoplifters, (cl) Detective Story Magazine Jun 27 1925
    * The Reminiscences of a Store-Detective, (cl) Detective Story Magazine Jun 20 1925
    * Schoolhouse in the Foothills, (ar) The Saturday Evening Post Oct 13, Oct 27, Nov 10 1934
    * The Shoplifters’ Exchange, (cl) Detective Story Magazine Jul 11 1925
    * Why Wealthy Women Become Shoplifters, (cl) Detective Story Magazine Jun 27 1925

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, David,

      I assume this is from the FictionMags Index. For readers unfamiliar with that site:

      ar=article
      bg=biographical material
      cl=column
      nv=novelette
      pi=pictorial
      sl=serial segment
      ss=short story
      ts=true story

      TH

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