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Harold MacGrath Collection

An inventory |of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Nov 1990

Biographical History

Harold MacGrath (1871-1932) was an American novelist, short story writer, and screenwriter. Born in Syracuse, New York, he worked on the Syracuse Herald newspaper until the late 1890s, when he published his first novel, Arms and the Woman. His second book, Puppet Crown, spent a year on the best-seller list in 1907; by the end of his career he had written more than forty novels, sometimes more than one in a single year. His stories were immensely popular, featuring love, adventure, mystery, spies, and other thrilling elements.

MacGrath was one of the first nationally-known authors to write directly for the movies when the American Film Company hired him in 1912 to do the screenplay for a short Western. Eventually, eighteen of his novels and three short stories were made into films (three more were made into Broadway plays).

Throughout his career MacGrath contonued to write short stories for major American magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Red Book magazine.

Although MacGrath's income from writing allowed him to travel extensively, Syracuse remained his home. When he married in 1905 he brought his wife there, and eventually built a large English-style mansion (1618 James St.) known for its landscaped gardens.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Harold MacGrath Collection comprises letters, an illustration, a photograph, and writings. The 5 items of outgoing correspondence include an acknowledgement of Mrs. Robert Haven Schauffler's invitation to participate in a charity event (14 Feb. 1921):

The war has made us realize more keenly the importance of healthy citizens and good ones. The chance you are giving these little children will be of inestimable value to the country at large.
I am sending you an autographed copy of the Drums of Jeopardy which perhaps you can auction off for something toward your fund.

Writings include "Guessing At It," a short piece on humor ("... my point of view relative to the comic misfortune of somebody else") and an 11 page holograph manuscript containing MacGrath's reminiscences of his newspaper days in Chicago.

In addition, the collection contains an inscribed copy of an illustration by J. Henry and an inscribed photograph of MacGrath bearing the date 1920.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Subject Headings


MacGrath, Harold, 1871-1932


American literature -- 20th century.
Journalists -- United States.
Novelists, American.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts (document genre)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Harold MacGrath Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Single item of correspondence dated 1921, gift of Lyall Squair. Illustration by J. Henry, gift of Mr. and Mrs. William H. Jennings.

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