Earl Clifton Beck was born on April 7, 1891 in Hickman, Nebraska, the son of Cornelius Porter and Louisa (Theade) Beck. He attended the Peru Teachers College in Peru, Nebraska, the University of Nebraska, where he earned a B.A. and M.A., Harvard University, where he earned a second M.A., and the George Peabody College, where he earned his Ph.D. Beck worked as a teacher and administrator in Nebraska public schools, a college training school in Dillon, Montana, Stillman College, Alabama, and as the head of the English Department at Central Michigan University (CMU).
His books include Songs of the Michigan Lumberjacks (1941, 1948, and [sound recording from the Library of Congress], 1960), Lore of the Lumber Camps (1948), They Knew Paul Bunyan (1956), Sounds of the Lake and the Forest, Michigan Folk Songs (1960), and It Was This Way (1963). Copies of most of his books are in the CMU libraries and resource centers. He and some friends formed a singing group which sang lumberjack songs. The recorded songs of this group are in the collection.
Beck married and had two daughters. He died on March 21, 1977 in Farmington Hills, Michigan. (This information is from Michigan Authors, 1980.)