Good biography is entertaining literature. The personal element in it insures for it interest and influence. Standard collections of brief biographies are indispensable as books of reference and are most stimulating reading for young people in the public library and in the home.
The opening of new fields of activity with the broadening of our national life has increased the number of men whose names are brought prominently before the American public. New collections of biography are needed at comparatively brief intervals.
"Men of Mark in America" is a series of volumes, national in its scope, and marked by certain new features which the publishers believe give to it exceptional value. In collecting the material for these biographies the publishers have secured an autobiographical element which gives vital and personal interest to the work. Expecting to make these volumes a source of inspiration and encouragement to readers who love and believe in our American ideals, and especially to the young, we have requested the subject of each biography to describe briefly his surroundings in childhood and youth; to mention any difficulties which he was obliged to overcome; to indicate the influences which awakened his ambition and strengthened his power of achievement; to tell his readers by what methods of study and work he has been enabled to reach his present position of usefulness and honor. But no man has been asked or allowed to write his own biography. We have also asked for brief suggestions to young readers regarding principles to be adopted and plans to be followed by the young if they would make their lives effective. Our editorial writers by incorporating these facts, counsels and suggestions into the biographies, have given, we believe, exceptional value and interest to the work. In some cases where no material was furnished by the subject of the sketch, the biography is necessarily less full.
The first and the second (the "Washington") volumes contain for the most part names of men whose life-work has been national in its import and connects itself naturally with our National Capital, or who are actual residents of Washington. Succeeding volumes will contain biographies of eminent men from all parts of the United States.
The selection of names has been carefully made, and in every case has been approved by the Advisory Board whose names appear on a following page. The members of this Board were chosen by the publishers in advance. The appearance of biographies of the Advisory Board in these volumes is due not to their own vote and approval, but to the insistent wish of the publishers.
"Men of Mark in America" is for the most part made up of biographies of men who are now in active life, to whom the country is indebted for its progress in the last half century. We particularly note the work of the younger men who have become prominent in the development of the nation into a "world-power" within the last decade.
The introductory essay by that most deservedly popular literary exponent of "true Americanism," Edward Everett Hale, author of "The Man Without a Country," illustrates the hope and the purpose of the publishers in bringing out this series of volumes. For the second volume, Hamilton W. Mabie, the distinguished essayist and editor, has prepared an introductory essay upon "American Ideals in Literature."
The selection and approval of names for this list of biographies has been made with reference to the achievements and the character of the men whose biographies have been written.
Men of Mark Publishing Company,
December 15, 1905. Washington, D.C.