by Unknown

Ray Stannard Baker was born in 1870 at Lansing, Michigan, and came to St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, with his parents at the age of five. Here he spent his boyhood and youth. He returned to the Agricultural College of his native state for study, and received his degree from that institution, afterwards attending the University for a short time. He then went into business with his father at St. Croix Falls, but the desire to write was strong upon him, and he began his career of authorship. During recent years his residence has been in Amherst, Massachusetts, but he visits Wisconsin every summer. He is one of the state's most voluminous writers. He has the habit of keen and sympathetic observation, and this quality, when combined, as it has been in his case, with extensive and judicious travel and reading, usually results in a considerable literary output. Those of us who have read Mr. Baker's magazine articles and books feel that the writer has seen a great many things,—that he has seen them with his own eyes, and that he has seen them intelligently. Aside from the fact that nearly all of his works grow rather from observation of men and things than from a study of philosophy or metaphysics, Mr. Baker's range of interest has been exceedingly wide. Perhaps he is best known as a writer on social, political, and economic subjects, but the selections given here from "The Boys' Book of Inventions," (I and II), indicate a field of interest that is entirely apart from politics.

The editors feel bound, in justice to Mr. Baker, to say that he feared that our readers would think that we had erred in choosing the accounts of inventions which have progressed so immeasurably since his articles were written. The editors, on the other hand, desired to do precisely the thing that Mr. Baker feared to have them do. They desire to show what a keen, well-trained observer saw in these inventions, which now play so vital a part in our lives, when the inventions were new. Further, it is our desire that the name of Professor Langley, of Washington, D. C., should be properly honored in connection with the advance of the science of aviation. Indeed, but recently, when tried by an experienced aviator, his machine flew successfully. Professor Langley died as an indirect result of his untiring, unselfish, and heroic efforts in this then new cause. In spite of ridicule and contempt, in spite of lack of support, he went courageously ahead; and it is right that the boys of Wisconsin should know that a young man of their state has given due credit in his book to this heroic soul.