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Reverend W. S. Harris (1865- ?)

William Shuler Harris is the author of 7 books which have become collectible less for their religious content than their usual presentation. Unlike the vast majority most religious books written for the general public of his day, Harris offered books whose covers alone captured the attention of the potential reader. Venturing beyond the striking cover graphics, the reader found unusual allegorical illustrations, moral & religious education presented through parables, allegories, and other appealing literary devices.

Harris' best known work is Life In A Thousand Worlds which is a series of religious allegories using science fiction & space travel. It is included in a number of science fiction bibliographies as an early appearance of the genre.

Harris was also a passionate Socialist. While this was not that unusual for a person in his position & time, Central Pennsylvania was not a hotbed of either the progressive Social Gospel movement which began at the turn of the century, nor the even more radical Christian Socialism.

Most of Harris' books were sold by multiple publishers (e.g. Mr. World And Miss Church-Member had at least 14 different publishers) many of whom offered his books by subscription only. Thus, salesman's samples of his books by various publishers can be found in profusion.

Very little Is known about Harris. He received his "deacon's orders" in 1890, and "elder's orders" in 1892. Apparently, his first pastorship was The Evangelical Church of Sunbury, Pennsylvania in 1890, and he later served at Luke’s Church of the Evangelical Association also located in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania. He first appears in Harrisburg city directories in 1903 as the minister of the Park St. United Evangelical Church where he remained until 1912. The following year he is listed as Treasure of the newly organized Harris Grape Juice Co., an appropriate enterprise for a Prohibitionist. He remained in this position until around 1924. Although during this period he is mentioned in 1916 as pastoring the Rutherford Heights United Evangelical Church (Harrisburg) and becoming the pastor of the Sixth St. United Evangelical Church (Harrisburg) in 1920. Another pastor is listed in 1922, making Harris' position there brief.

By 1925, Harris appears as a "building contractor", and William, Jr. (first listed as a student in 1920) as a "clerk", and the 1926 city directory states merely "real estate" after Harris, and William, Jr. as a "clerk". No occupation is given for Harris in 1927, but Wm. Jr. is now listed as a "realtor", and the following year there is only a listing for "William S." as "real estate". After 1928 there is no listing for any of the Harris family, including his wife Emma whose name had appeared since 1915.
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Content provided by: Henry F. Hain III.


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