Harold C. Place, editor of Progress in Kansas, was born in Manley, Iowa in 1896. He attended the University of Iowa but quit before graduating to go work for the Mayor of Des Moines as an administrative assistant (what was called in those days a private secretary). Later he worked for the Des Moines Register and the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
By the 1920's, Harold Place was the managing editor of the Toledo News-Bee, the youngest managing editor of a metropolitan area newspaper at that time. He crusaded against mobsters and was successful in getting several of them jailed for their crimes. Married to Irma Hoyt, and with two children, Bud and Jean, the future looked bright and full of promise.
But in 1929, the Great Depression began. Money was tight. As well, some of the mobsters that Mr. Place had helped put in jail were being released, having served their sentences, and they swore revenge against him. Jean and Bud were sent to Iowa to stay with relatives to keep safe and perhaps because the budget was already stretched. Then the newspaper fired him, claiming poor business conditions. Rumor had it that they then hired a new editor at a much lower salary.
Samuel Wilson, Mrs. Place's brother-in-law, was managing the Kansas Chamber of Commerce at that time, and offered the position of Publicity Director for the Chamber to Mr. Place. It was a good choice; Harold Place is remembered as being smart, ambitious, a man of big ideas and brilliant style. Mr. Place accepted the offer and in 1932, the family moved to Topeka.
In 1934, Mr. Place took on the job of editing Progress in Kansas and the magazine reflects his distinctive style and active curiosity, and his sharp journalistic sense. But Mr. Place died just four years later at the age of 42, following a period of ill health.
More than sixty years later, however, the pages of Progress in Kansas still speak to us, an extraordinary collection of Kansas history and an enduring legacy of Harold C. Place.