Although Helen Josephine Ferris was born in Hastings, Nebraska, in 1890, her roots reach back to Wisconsin. Her mother, Minnie Lunn Ferris was born in Marshall, growing up in Waterloo. Her father, Elmer, was a Baptist minister who was born in Seven Mile Creek and grew up there and in Fond du Lac. Both of her parents attended Wayland Academy in Beaver Dam. Between 1901-04, the Ferris family lived in La Crosse. Helen enjoyed "the mighty Mississippi River", later writing of it that "... it will always be my river." The family moved to Milwaukee during Helen's high school years, 1905-07. Two Wisconsin librarians were Helen's mentors: her aunt, Anne Mayers, Assistant to the State Library Commission; and Mary Emogene Hazeltine, Preceptor of the Wisconsin Library School. Helen referred to herself as a "Great Granddaughter of Wisconsin" and maintained family ties to the state throughout her life.
Helen's first publication appeared in the Wisconsin Audubon Magazine when she was only eleven. During the years 1912-19, she held several editorial positions including The Guardian, American Girl, and Youth's Companion. It was also during this time that she published her first four books. In 1924 she married Albert B. Tibbets.
Helen Ferris served as editor-in-chief of the Junior Literary Guild from 1929 until her retirement in 1959. Her high literary standards and the desire to share good literature stemmed in large part from her parents' extensive reading aloud in their home; standards which are reflected in the high quality of her Guild selections as well as her own published works. Throughout her career, she wrote ten books and edited seventeen others for young readers. The New York Times ran an article announcing her death on September 28, 1969.
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