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Foremost young American poet and recent addition to the University staff, Archibald MacLeish yesterday termed his work as the Curator of the Nieman Collection as "being invented by doing it."
So far his efforts lie in two directions. In Widener he is supervising the creation of a collection of general literature on Journalism, in connection with which he will attempt to assimilate microfilm pictures of contemporary newspapers all over the world. The second job is acting as adviser and supervisor of the Nieman follows, a group of newspapermen who are studying at the University this year in fields of their own selection.
Silent on Collection Project
With the collection project barely under way, MacLeish declined to enlarge on his work in the library which is as he termed it "like nothing ever before tried."
On the other hand, his work with the Nieman Fellows is well defined. The common room in Straus Hall has been obtained as a meeting place for the Fellows, and MacLeish drops in from 12 to 1 o'clock every noon to talk things over with them.
Dinners on "Success of U. S. Press"
A week ago he held the first of the weekly dinners scheduled for the studying journalists throughout the year. Every dinner is featured by a guest, prominent in some field of journalism. The purpose of these get-togethers is to determine: "How well does the United States Press execute its assignments in various fields."
At the initial dinner last Thursday, Ralph Ingersoll, publisher of Time, described his end of journalism. Tonight the second speaker, John Gunther, will deal with foreign correspondence. By the end of the year, MacLeish hopes to have every phase of journalism represented.
Faculty Experts at Dinners
In addition to the Fellows, and the Faculty Committee in charge of the Nieman work, MacLeish invites members of the faculty who might be interested in the field under discussion. Tonight ex-Chancellor of Germany, Heinrich Bruening, will be at the dinner.
Among the famous journalists whom MacLeish has invited are: Walter Lippmann, Alexander Woolcott, Henry Robert Luce, Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace and William Allen White.
The program which MacLeish intends to follow this year as Curator, while indefinite, was worked out by the poet and President Conant as a way to best meet the terms of the Nieman Bequest which was specifically for Journalism.
Pulitzer Prize Winner
MacLeish's duties at Harvard are only part-time in order that he may continue with his poetry. In 1932 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his poem "Conquistador". However, on assuming his position at the University, MacLeish discontinued his association with Fortune magazine.
While with Fortune, he wrote the research articles dealing mainly with labor, the Capitol, social affairs, and one on Japan. He ha also been a contributor to The Nation. Next week the Columbia Broadcasting System will carry one of his plays over a national network, when they dramatic "Air Raid."
When it was suggested that more data could be found on his life in Who's Who in which he is listed, the poet, who doesn't conform in the slightest to the usual pictures of a poet, laughingly said, "Not only that, but I can clean skates with my teeth."
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