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About the SMA

When fifty writers formed the Society of Midland Authors on April 24, 1915, their objectives included "a closer association among the writers of the Middle West" and "the stimulation of creative literary effort." A century later, the Society still accomplishes those goals — hosting literary events, honoring the region's best books with annual awards, and connecting its members with a newsletter, Twitter and other channels.

The Society hosts literary events, which are free and open to the public. See our events page for details of upcoming programs. Chicago Public Radio's audio recordings of our programs, including author lectures and panel discussions, can be heard at

The Society's founding authors included Clarence Darrow, Harriet Monroe, Hamlin Garland, Edna Ferber, Vachel Lindsay, George Ade, Mary Hastings Bradley, Emerson Hough, Howard Vincent O'Brien, James Whitcomb Riley and William Allen White. Others who joined soon afterward were Jane Addams, Ring Lardner, Edgar Lee Masters, John T. McCutcheon and Lorado Taft.

Crediting John M. Stahl with sparking the idea of an authors organization, the Society's first president, Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, wrote: "None but a bold man would have sought to weld such individualistic — dare I say egotistic? — creatures as authors into a society of any sort."

Based in Chicago, the Society includes published authors from twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Since 1957, the Society has presented annual awards for the best books written by Midwestern authors. Notable winners of the juried competition have included Saul Bellow, Kurt Vonnegut, Studs Terkel, Gwendolyn Brooks, Mike Royko, Jane Smiley, Dempsey Travis, Leon Forrest, William Maxwell, Louise Erdrich, Scott Turow, Alex Kotlowitz, Aleksandar Hemon, Stuart Dybek, Roger Ebert and many more.

The award categories are Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Biography, Children's Fiction, Children's Nonfiction and Poetry.

See for full list of past winners and runners-up. Also watch this website near the end of each year for details on how to enter the contest.

This website features information on the Society's public events and annual awards. The website promotes new book by Society members. Member authors are featured in a speakers bureau on the site.

The Society is also on Facebook at

And follow us on Twitter at @midlandauthors and @BiblioFileSMA for news on Midwestern authors and links to articles on writing and publishing.

Members must be current or former residents of the twelve Midland states. Each member is the author or co-author of a book demonstrating literary style and published by a recognized publisher, or the author of a published or professionally produced play. The Society also includes associate members — people with a connection to literature, such as librarians, teachers, publishers and editors.

To join, a writer must be nominated by a current Society member. Authors interested in joining may contact the Society through the form and email addresses at

Members receive a subscription to Literary License — a newsletter packed with news about the latest books and activities by the Society's authors — as well as a yearbook including addresses and contact information for fellow members.

The Society, a nonprofit corporation run completely by the volunteer efforts of its members, welcomes contributions to help support our awards program and other activities. Contributions are tax-deductible.

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SMA programs and events recorded by Chicago Public Radio's Chicago Amplified

The banner for this web site was created from a photograph of Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, formerly the main branch of the Chicago Public Library.

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Monthly Meeting
Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Cindy Pritzker Auditorium, Harold Washington Library Center, 400 S. State St.

The Incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II
By Richard Cahan and Michael Williams

In 1942, the United States rounded up 109,000 residents of Japanese ancestry living along the West Coast and sent them to detention centers for the duration of World War II. Many of the incarcerated abandoned their land and lost their property. Each one of them lost a part of their lives.

The government hired or authorized famed photographers Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others to document the expulsion—from assembling Japanese Americans at racetracks to confining them in ten camps spread across the country. Their photographs, seventy-five years after the forced removal began, provide an emotional, unflinching portrait of a nation concerned more about security than human rights. These photographs are particularly pertinent today, given debates about immigration and deportation.

Authors Richard Cahan and Michael Williams—noted photo historians—have assembled a powerful history of one of America’s defining moments. Their book consists of photographs that have never been published, some impounded by the U.S. Army during the war. It also uses primary source government documents to place the pictures in context. And it relies on firsthand recollections of Japanese American survivors to offer a wide perspective.

About the Society of Midland Authors
The Society of Midland Authors was founded in 1915 by a group of authors to create “a closer association among the writers of the Middle West” and to stimulate the “creative literary effort.” A century later, the nonprofit group includes about 300 authors from 12 Midwestern states. Society of Midland Authors holds free, public literary events at venues such as the Chicago Public Library’s Harold Washington Library Center and the Cliff Dwellers. The group connects its members via a newsletter, the website, Facebook, and the Twitter accounts @midlandauthors and @BiblioFileSMA.

Contact Society of Midland Authors Vice President Robert Loerzel at or 773-572-2402 with any publicity questions.

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Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, 6:00 p.m

free admission, no reservation required
(cash bar, free hors-d'oeuvres)

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