Ray Stannard Baker (also known by his pen name David Grayson) was an American journalist, historian, biographer, and author.
In 1898 Baker joined the staff of McClure’s, a pioneer muckraking magazine, and quickly rose to prominence along with Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell. He also dabbled in fiction, writing children’s stories for the magazine Youth’s Companion and a 9-volume series of stories about rural living in America, the first of which was titled “Adventures in Contentment” (1910) under his pseudonym David Grayson, which reached millions of readers worldwide.
In 1907 dissatisfied with the muckraker label, Baker, Steffens, and Tarbell left McClure’s and founded The American Magazine. In 1908 after the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot got him involved, Baker published the book Following the Color Line: An Account of Negro Citizenship in the American Democracy, becoming the first prominent journalist to examine America’s racial divide; it was extremely successful.
He followed up that work with numerous articles in the following decade.
In 1912, Baker supported the presidential candidacy of Woodrow Wilson, which led to a close relationship between the two men, and in 1918 Wilson sent Baker to Europe to study the war situation. During peace negotiations, Baker served as Wilson’s press secretary at Versailles. He eventually published 15 volumes about Wilson and internationalism, including the 6-volume The Public Papers of Woodrow Wilson (1925-1927) with William Edward Dodd, and the 8-volume Woodrow Wilson: Life and Letters (1927–39), the last two volumes of which won the Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography in 1940. He served as an adviser on Darryl F. Zanuck’s 1944 film Wilson.
Baker wrote three autobiographies, Native American (1941) , American Chronicle (1945) and Turtles (1943)
A dormitory at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is named in honor of Baker, using his pen name David Grayson. David Grayson Elementary School in Waterford, Michigan is also named in his honor using his pen name.