Arthur Knight Hafen was born January 14, 1888, in Santa Clara, Washington County, Utah, to John and Lenora Knight Hafen. Hafen went to ungraded schools in St. George until the 7th grade. He graduated from 8th grade in 1904 and graduated from the Branch Normal School (BNS) in Cedar City, Utah in 1907. He attended Brigham Young University in 1907-08 to obtain his four-year Normal certificate. He served as principal of the Santa Clara schools during the 1908-1909 school year and taught 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Instead of continuing in that capacity, he returned to BYU and received his A. B. degree (1912). He was elected Superintendent of Schools for Washington County in 1914 and acted in that capacity for one year as well as teaching at the St. George Academy. He was offered the appointment for another year, but decided he liked teaching more than administration.
Hafen attended the University of California at Berkeley in 1918 and later the University of Southern California. Hafen hearned his M.A. degree in 1926 from Brigham Young University. For his master's thesis, he made a survey of the reading material in the homes of several of the towns in Washington County. In 1932 he attended the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque to study Spanish.
Hafen married Orilla Woods on September 11, 1912 in St. George. He was a teacher for over 40 years and spent most of them at Dixie College where he headed the English and Modern Languages Department and was director of the Division of Humanities. He was a correspondent
for the Deseret News in Salt Lake City and author of several publications on the history of St. George and biographical sketches of the community’s pioneers. His publications include Dixie Folklore and Pioneer Memories, Devoted Empire Builders (Pioneers of St. George), Beneath Vermillion Cliffs (Historic St. George), and A Biographical Sketch of John G. Hafen. He served as historian for the Dixie Mission Chapter of the Sons of Utah Pioneers and as secretary of the Saint George and Washington Canal Company.