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Remembering Max Hall

March-April 2011

Max Hall died in Cambridge on January 12 at 100 years of age. He was a writer, teacher of writing, journalist, editor of scholarly books, and for many of his many years, a contributing editor of this magazine. Each of his numerous articles was a model of the ABCs of good journalism: accuracy, brevity, and clarity. His books include The Charles: The People's River, which grew out of a cover article for the magazine; An Embarrassment of Misprints: Comical and Disastrous Typos of the Centuries; and Harvard University Press: A History.

Max was employed as a journalist in Atlanta, New York, and Washington, D.C., including nine years with the Associated Press. He was awarded a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard in 1949-50 for his labor reporting. In 1960 he came back to Cambridge with his family for a long stint at Harvard University Press as social sciences editor. He brought his editorial skills and Southern manner to the task of persuading academics that they could improve their writing. He had successes. He was a member of the board of directors of this magazine in the mid 1990s, and an incorporator from 1992. When he was a director, he volunteered to take the minutes of board meetings, and did so with such accuracy, brevity, and clarity that when his two terms had expired, the board asked him to stay on as clerk on an informal basis, which he did. An obituary notice appears on page 56P.

~The Editors