Donal Hamilton Haines
1886 - 1951
Donal Hamilton Haines, Professor of Journalism, on the staff of our College for 24 years, died at his home at 1229 Traver Road, at 3:16 o'clock on the morning of August 28, 1951. He died of coronary occlusion which had threatened him for several months after a warning attack on October 20, 1950, while he was engaged in his duties on the campus. Despite his illness, he continued teaching until last June and was preparing to resume his work again this fall.
Professor Haines was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, February 28, 1886, to David H. and Lila T. Haines. He was graduated from Central High School, Kalamazoo, in 1904, became a reporter for the Kalamazoo Daily Telegraph, attended Kalamazoo College for a year, and was graduated from the University of Michigan with the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1909 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. He married Margaret B. Latham in Kalamazoo, May 4, 1918, and she survives him.
Following his graduation from the University, he entered the precarious but independent career of free-lance writer, and from 1909 to 1921, except for a brief service as military newspaper correspondent, wrote more than two hundred articles which were published in various magazines, including Scribner's, McClure's, The American, Everybody's, Cosmopolitan, Munsey's, Argosy, Pearson's, The Red Book, Collier's Weekly, Saturday Evening Post, The Bookman, Adventure, Outing, The American Boy, and a number of his articles were published in The Outlook when that journal was outstanding among American magazines.
At that time he also began writing novels for young people, and during his writing career he has had published eighteen novels, sixteen for juveniles, two for adults, and one non-fiction book. A nineteenth novel was in manuscript at the time of his death. In the early part of his career he did his writing in Kalamazoo, New York, Philadelphia, and Sacramento.
He was appointed a teaching fellow in journalism at the University in 1921, as part-time instructor in 1922-23. He was editor of The Michigan Alumnus from 1922 to 1924, an assistant in journalism from 1923 to 1928, director of public information for the Department of Engineering Research from 1926 to 1928, and was appointed to an instructorship in journalism in the Department of Rhetoric and Journalism in 1928. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1936, to associate professor in 1943, and he received his appointment as professor a few weeks before he died. A member of Sigma Delta Chi, he served faithfully as adviser to the local chapter. For many years, even before he became a member of this Faculty, he was "playwright doctor" for the Union Operas and Junior Girls' Plays. For a number of years he directed student training for the Michigan Daily and until 1950 he was director of the Michigan Interscholastic Press Association, an organization of the high school publication advisers and editors of the State.
He was widely known in this State for an outdoor column published by the Ann Arbor News and by other Booth newspapers. As in so much of Professor Haines' writings, his objectives in this column were much more serious than would appear to superficial appraisers. "Its objective," he once wrote concerning his column in a departmental memorandum, "was the ultimate establishment of a healthier and more farsighted attitude toward all aspects of conservation." And he added. that his belief "has always been that the attitude of people toward their play is one of the foundation stones of sound citizenship and that no effort should be spared in trying to improve that attitude." He achieved this objective, not by preachment and moralizing (for these he had frank contempt), but by dramatizing the fun in outdoor life in a setting of awe, respect, and balanced interests, social and personal. As in most of his writings, there were in these weekly columns an emanation of kindliness and of genuine wit.
His long series of juvenile novels carried that same high art of influencing readers to the appreciation of high standards in personal conduct, of constructive social attitudes, and of cultural tastes while they were being engaged in entertainment and adventure. Many of his thousands of young readers were thus influenced by the dramatization of cosmopolitan and socially aware points of view. One of his juvenile novels was, as he once put it, "a fictionalized protest to the romanticising and glorification of war," and he strived - and succeeded - to make his principal characters unavailable for hero worship.
It is significant that his non-fiction book, Luck in All Weathers, published by Farrar and Rinehart in 1941, was selected by the Council on Books in Wartime for exclusive distribution to the armed forces overseas, and more than one hundred thousand of these books were printed and distributed. Wrote an alumnus to the Department: "If you see Don Haines tell him I read his book in the little paper edition while sitting in my tank right smack in the middle of Siegfried line near Aachen." Of this book, Professor Haines said: ".... its primary objective was the public declaration of my 'articles of faith' developed during many years in which shooting and fishing have been my chief diversions--my strong belief in the importance of such forms of recreation to the youth of the nation, and the danger to the fundamental virtues of such sports through the loss of what I may call the 'spiritual values' under modern conditions, made me very anxious to set these ideals before the youth of America."
When Hudson's of Detroit invited Professor Haines several years ago as one of their "famous author" guests to sign autographed copies of his books, he accepted somewhat amused, somewhat embarrassed, and he was surprised and bewildered to find himself the center of public adulation by young and old. Professor. Haines was essentially a modest person. Few persons among his colleagues on the Faculty were aware of his extensive creative accomplishments, nor were many apprised regarding the serious and highly constructive objectives in work that seems on the surface to be so informal and entertaining. But thousands of his readers and hundreds of his former students were aware, and they attested their regard and respect in visits to the Department of Journalism and in countless letters. Students new to the University often sought him out to express appreciation for the books he had written and for the lasting and constructive impressions they had gained from them. Colleagues, in traveling over the State, met inquiries from citizens, old and young, about their favorite author.
Students were first drawn to Professor Haines by his striking appearance, then held by his love of life and abiding wisdom. He was as informal and entertaining in the classroom as he was in his writings, and many serious students learned from him a style of writing, a sense of humor, a respect for personality, a regard for integrity, for accuracy, for meticulous and persevering search for background information. Even from his delightful anecdotes, students acquired a sense of decency and balance in human relations and in relations of men to all of nature. In narration of a casual incident--of fishing, of his dogs, of some search for an historical fact, of some character that impressed him--he exulted, but in the telling he set examples of style, of wit, of values, social and personal, that the impressed student drew upon long after classroom days.
Following his death, which was announced in the press throughout the nation and in foreign lands, there came a deluge of letters to his wife and to his colleagues, consoling in the genuine expressions of appreciation of his character and of the unique qualities of his teaching. One of these letters was from a University professor who wrote: "Admiration and affection were qualities he attracted in quantity from all who knew him. I doubt very much that he had any adequate understanding of the high regard in which he was held by an unsuspected multitude." "I am so thankful that I was a member of his class," wrote another. "Had I not been, I should have missed a wonderful adventure in being inspired to find a lot of fun in living. The courage of his originality and the gift he had to inspire his students with his complete honesty and sincerity have left their influence in the lives of thousands.... His observations, kind, sharp, all understanding, are a part of what makes the University great."
There was in all of Professor Haines' writings and teaching a basic functionalism. His philosophy of journalism was clean-cut on the side of social science despite the fact that his specializations were in what could easily have been for him the literary and artistic expressions. Once he protested, in writing, a suggestion that his courses in Magazine Writing and Critical Writing and Reviewing were in the category of literary and artistic expressions and not in journalism: "The acts of writing for journalistic ends and for pure artistic creation through self expression are identical in that they employ the same implements, materials, and processes, but quite unlike in both object and manner. All forms of journalistic writing must be regarded as having a greater social than artistic significance, not only because they are employed for the com¬munication and interpretation of information, but because they are evaluated not by aesthetic standards but by measurable effects upon social intelligence and upon social opinion."
These were the standards for his work. He meant to have an impress on the social intelligence and upon social opinion through his writings. And he did. Looking over his productions of more than forty years, those aware of his objectives and his kindly and thoughtful means for reaching them are impressed with the originality, the creativeness, and the liberal insights that mark his labors. There was a social purposiveness in all he did, none the less serious because his work was dressed in gaiety and casualness. In his rod and gun, sportsman's garb and light pen, merry tongue and sparkling wit, this man, our colleague, has uniquely communicated to his fellows the accessibility to all, the good life.
Dean C. Baker
Benjamin W. Wheeler
Lesley H. Maurer