Margaret H. Harlow (ceramics)

margaretMargaret H. Harlow graduated from Bemidji State Teachers’ College with a degree in education in 1936. She taught school in Minnesota before receiving a scholarship to earn a master of arts degree at George Peabody College in Nashville, Tenn., beginning in 1941.

She joined the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps in 1942 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. During World War II she was stationed in Massachusetts, Florida, Texas, California, New Guinea and the Philippines — where she was promoted to captain on V-J Day. She applied for a regular Army commission and retired as a major after a 20-year career that included tours of duty at the Pentagon, in London, at Brooklyn Army Base and at the Presidio in San Francisco.

After retiring from the military, she worked for the YWCA in Washington, D.C., as director of a vocational school, and retired to Walnut Creek, Calif., in 1974. She developed an interest in pottery while in London during the 1950’s and began collecting ceramics following a trip around the world in 1970. In 1973 she established BSU’s Margaret A. Harlow Ceramic Teaching Collection. She died in California on July 7, 2007.

The collection, which today includes more than 400 pieces, includes work by professional ceramics artists from around the world and is used as a teaching tool for BSU students. The collection includes ceramics from all eras, including modern work and a terracotta piece produced in Turkey that dates to the first century A.D. It also supports a scholarship by purchasing work produced by a BSU student for permanent inclusion in the collection.

Selected ceramic works are displayed in hallway exhibition cases near the ceramics classroom on the ground floor of Bensen Hall and portions of the collection are sometimes exhibited in Bemidji State University’s Talley Gallery and Bemidji State’s Harlow|Kleven gallery at the Watermark Art Center in Bemidji.

When the Harlow|Kleven gallery opened to the public at a Dec. 2, 2017 dedication ceremony, visitors explored portions of BSU’s Margaret A. Harlow Ceramic Teaching Collection and Lille M. Kleven Print Collection.

  • Laura Goliaszewski, gallery director and collections manager, Bemidji State University; (218) 755-3737,
  • Lori Forshee-Donnay, executive director, Watermark Art Center; (218) 444-7570,