Edward J. Franta was born on a farm in Liberty Grove Township, Richland County, on March 20, 1906, to John and Rosie (Kouba) Franta. In 1909, his family moved to Lidgerwood, and he attended school there.
Franta graduated from Lidgerwood High School in 1923 and enrolled at the University of North Dakota that fall to pursue a degree in journalism. While attending UND he was involved in a number of organizations and received many distinctions. He was an active member of Sigma Delta Chi, an honorary journalism fraternity, and served as the state's chapter president. He belonged to the Delta Mu Chapter of Kappa Sigma, a Greek social fraternity. He served as the associate business manager of the Dakota Daily Student and the assistant production manager of the Flickertail Follies. He was elected to UND "Who's Who" (1926). In 1926, he was the director of the Northern Interscholastic Press Conference. He was also active in R.O.T.C and completed an advanced infantry course in 1926.
Franta graduated from UND in 1927, with a B.A. in journalism. Before beginning his long time career with the Cavalier County Republican in Langdon, North Dakota, in 1928, he worked for three other newspapers. During his freshman year of college, he became a carrier for the Grand Forks Herald. In 1926, he served as a proofreader and reporter. For part of the following year, he was editor and manager for the Turtle Mountain Star in Rolla, North Dakota, while the publisher was on an extended trip. From October of 1927 to February of 1928, he was the managing editor for the Pampa Texas Times, in Pampa, Texas. In 1928, he began working for the Cavalier County Republican as a bookkeeper. After a few months he was given the responsibilities of managing editor and in 1935 he and the publisher's son were made junior partners. In 1939, they became co-publishers. In 1969 they sold the Cavalier County Republican to Howard and Edward Doherty, but Franta continued to work until 1984.
In addition to his work in the newspaper business, Franta was an active member of many organizations and held leadership positions in several of them, including North Dakota Automobile Club Board (1963-1983); assistant secretary (1928-1934) and secretary-treasurer of the North Dakota Press Association (1934-?); chairman, secretary and president of the Langdon Lion's Club; secretary of the Langdon Commercial Club; national chairman of the UND Development fund; assistant secretary (1933-1939) and secretary (1939-1957) of the North Dakota Press Association; member of the North Dakota Rhodes Scholar selection committee (1962-1968); North Dakota Statuary Hall Committee (1959); director and vice president of the North Dakota Publisher's Mutual Fire Insurance Company (1948-?); secretary of Regional Code Authority for Graphic Arts; and director of the North Dakota State Durum Show (1936). In addition, Franta was a reserve officer in the United States Army (1927-1941); an active member of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite Southern Jurisdiction; master of the Masonic Lodge; and a nine year board member of the UND Alumni Association (1958-1969). In 1970, he received the Sioux Award, the UND Alumni Association's highest honor. In 1975, he was presented the President's Medal by UND president Thomas J. Clifford.
Edward Franta married Jennie Kelland on August 25, 1930. They had three children Rosemary, Harry and Margery Ann. Franta died on February 25, 1988, in Langdon, North Dakota and is buried in the Lebanon Cemetery there.
The Edward J. Franta Papers consists primarily of a scrapbook documenting his time at the University of North Dakota between 1923 and 1927.
The scrapbook begins with a few pages of entries made by friends. The information collected from each individual includes the following: the date, hometown, nickname, birthday, ambition, "happy thoughts" and photograph. The first entry in this section was made in 1923 and the last one was made in 1926.
A majority of the scrapbook contains photographs and newspaper articles about UND athletics, fraternities, sororities and Franta's involvement at UND. The articles are taken primarily from the Dakota Daily Student and Grand Forks Herald, although articles from other newspapers are included. Specific information included about UND's athletic and intramural sports teams are game summaries, player profiles and photographs of individuals or teams. Additional articles focus on the events and activities taking place at the fraternities and sororities on campus, such as their meetings, elections, socials and other general information. Other articles center on Franta's achievement and involvements at UND.
A portion of the scrapbook includes newspaper articles, photographs and a certificate of completion from the advanced infantry training that Franta completed at Camp Snelling in July of 1926.
Also included in the collection are copies of articles published in the Alumni Review, Cavalier County Republican and Who's Who about Franta.