Harold DeWitt Shaft was born March 22, 1899, in St. Paul, Minnesota. He attended elementary and secondary schools in Minot, North Dakota. Following graduation, he attended the University of North Dakota.
Shaft was inducted into the United States Army on October 6, 1918. He served in the Students Army Training Corps at UND until November 11, 1918, when the war ended. He was then transferred to the Central Officers Training School, Camp Grant, Illinois. He was discharged on December 12, 1919 with the rank of private.
He graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1922 with a Bachelor of Laws degree. While at UND, Shaft served as the class secretary/treasurer from 1918-1920, was a staff member of the Dacotah annual, and was active in Phi Alpha Delta, a law fraternity, and Delta Sigma Rho, an honorary oratory and debate fraternity.
In 1922, he found work as a district court reporter in Bismarck before entering the law firm of Scott Cameron in 1925. He entered Usher Burdick's Fargo law firm in 1926. He returned to Bismarck in 1928 to accept a position as Assistant Attorney General. He served in this position until 1934, when he moved to Grand Forks to join the law firm of O.B. Burtness.
He was the city attorney for Grand Forks from 1938-1940, and from 1944-1956. He also served for many years as the attorney for the Grand Forks School Board. He was a special lecturer in contract law at the UND Law School from 1934-1937, as well as 1947-1974. He was honored by UND with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1963.
Shaft was active in the North Dakota Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the American Bar Foundation and the American College of Trial Lawyers, to name a few. On a local level, he served as President of the Grand Forks Chamber of Commerce and the Community Chest (United Fund). He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge, the American Legion, the Franklin Club and First Presbyterian Church.
He married Corinne Heitman of Grand Forks on June 23, 1923. The couple had three children: John, Barbara and Margaret. Harold and Corrine Shaft died in Grand Forks on February 13, 1974 at their home.