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Russell P. MacFall

Russell Patterson "Russ" MacFall, consummate newspaper man and author of popular books on mineral collecting, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on September 1, 1903, the son of Florence McConnell and Russell T. MacFall, a corporate lawyer. He graduated from DePauw University and worked for the Indianapolis News from 1925 to 1935 before moving to Chicago. There he worked briefly for the old Chicago Herald & Examiner before joining the Chicago Tribune as a copy editor in 1936. In his spare time he took classes at the University of Chicago and received his Master's Degree in English. He was promoted to Night Editor in 1952, a position he held for 13 years, eventually serving also as Neighborhood News Editor before retiring in 1968. He lived for most of his professional life in Wilmette and Evanston, Illinois. MacFall was known as "a man with widely varied intellectual interests, vigorous energy, and a lively sense of humor." He and his wife Lucile had two daughters (Joyce and Judy) and one son (James).

MacFall was the author of several books and hundreds of magazine articles, served as ghost writer and editor for several prominent persons, did editorial work on the side for the Bobbs-Merrill Publishing Company, and was active as a book reviewer and speaker. Among his books were Gem Hunter's Guide (1951, 1958, 1963, 1969), Fossils for Amateurs (1972, 1983), Popular Mechanics Complete Book of Rocks, Minerals, Gems, Fossils (1978), Rock Hunter's Guide (1980), Collecting Rocks, Minerals, Gems and Fossils (1963, 1964, 1966, 1968), Minerals and Gems (1975) and The Complete Book of Rocks, Minerals, Gems, Fossils (1978)ónot to mention a biography of L. Frank Baum (author of the Wizard of Oz stories). Among his various posts he served as President of the Midwest Federation of Mineralogical and Geological Societies. During his last years he also served as honorary curator of minerals at the San Diego Museum of Natural History. The new mineral species macfallite was named in his honor by Paul Moore et al. in 1979.

MacFall had a wide circle of friends in the mineral world, and traveled regularly throughout the Midwest to visit people, mineral shows and mineral localities. He appears to have started collecting minerals in a modest way in the 1930s, and over the years gradually built up a collection numbering over 2,300 specimens (according to his catalog). By the time of the sale of his collection in 2008 (to mineral dealers Don and Gloria Olson) it contained about 1,000 specimens, including some very fine pieces, heavy in Michigan minerals and also Arizona minerals. The collection had a catalog, but no personalized labels. The label shown here was created by Gloria to accompany the sale of specimens from the collection and help to preserve their provenance.

Russell MacFall moved to Coronado, California in 1977 and died there on September 6, 1983. His collection passed to his children, who kept it until recently.

ANONYMOUS (1983) Russell MacFall, retired editor for the Tribune. Chicago Tribune, September 8.
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[Citation format for this entry:
WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
Mineralogical Record
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The Mineralogical Record - Russell P. MacFall 57 x 86 mm,
Label prepared for the sale of the MacFall collection in 2008 by mineral dealers Don and Gloria Olson.
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