Biography and History

William Hard was born on September 15, 1878 in Painted Post, New York, the son of missionaries Clark Pettengill and Lydia van Someren Hard. Hard received his preliminary education at the Philander Smith Institute, Mussoorie, India and in public school in Lima, New York and at University College, London, England before enrolling at Northwestern University. After receiving a B.A. in history in 1900, he received a fellowship at Northwestern and lectured there in medieval history.

In 1901, Hard moved to the Northwestern University Settlement House. His professional journalism career began in 1902 with Hard's involvement in the production of Settlement House's monthly newsletter. Like many of his colleagues, Hard developed sympathies for the plight of urban workers and ties to the organized labor movement. He was widely acknowledged among his colleagues for the quality of journalistic integrity which characterized Hard's work. In 1906 he worked as a free-lance contributor to many magazines, an activity in which he continued until the end of his life. He was a member of the editorial staffs of Everybody's and Metropolitan magazines; the latter then edited by Theodore Roosevelt.

With the advent of radio, a new career path for Hard opened up. By 1929 he was a regular correspondent and commentator for the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Between 1930-1935, Hard broadcast reports and interviews from Washington, D.C., the 1932 Republican Convention in Chicago, and Berlin. In February 1937, he was appointed executive assistant to the Chairman of the Republican National Committee and served as secretary of the Republican Program Committee. He resigned his party posts in October 1938, saying he wished to return to “independent political journalism.” In the following year, he began writing for Reader's Digest and was roving editor for the magazine until his death in New Caanan, Connecticut in 1962.

He was married in Chicago, November 3, 1903 to Anne Nyhan, adopted daughter of Wiley S. Scribner, and had two children: William, who married Jean Foster and later Rita Setten; and Eleanor Van Someren, who married Gerard Kirsopp Lake.

Source: From the finding aid for MC145

  • William Hard Papers. 1914-1934 (inclusive).

    Call Number: MC145

    The William Hard Papers consist of correspondence files, notes, typescripts, speeches, papers and articles relating to the career of William Hard. The papers also contain a significant amount of supplementary printed materials Hard used for research on his unpublished publication on the League of Nations fight during the Wilson presidency.