Skip to main content

Olive Beaupre Miller papers

Identifier: SSC-MS-00104

Scope and Contents

The Olive Beaupré Miller Papers consist of five linear feet (twelve document boxes) of notes and research materials, published and unpublished writings, business documents, correspondence, literary manuscripts and typescripts, memorabilia, drawings, and photographs, dating from 1864-1992. The bulk of the material dates from 1894-1958.

The Biographical series fills one box and includes clippings, articles, and unpublished biographical sketches of Olive and other Beaupré and Miller family members. There is also miscellaneous correspondence, Smith College Alumnae material, and photographs. Biographical and genealogical material of other family members appear after material about Olive. Olive transcribed stories that her aunt, Mary Marsh Beaupré, dictated about her uncle, Arthur Matthias Beaupré, who served as Consul-General to Guatemala and U.S. Minister to Colombia, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, and Cuba. There are also typescripts of autobiographies by her maternal grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Brady, and her husband, Harry Edward Miller.

Miller's writings and related papers make up aproximately one third of the collection. The Writings series consists of both unpublished and published works. The unpublished writings are arranged chronologically, and separated into two parts: the creative short stories and paper dolls of her youth and typescripts of extensively researched historical novels of her later years. Olive's writings and research materials provide a clear chronological progression of her development as a writer and researcher. Her writing displays a strong sense of personal style which can be traced from her childhood writings on. The Paper dolls and drawings are included with the childhood writings because they were an integral part of Olive's early story-making endeavors. She considered the drawings her way of creating stories before she learned the alphabet.

Also of interest in the Writings series is the correspondence between Edwin Read, Jr. and Margaret Pratt concerning sales tactics and the sales women for The Book House. The collection includes a signed, first edition copy of Engines and Brass Bands. Business documents and correspondence relating to published works are filed in the Writings series under each work.

The Notes and Research series is arranged by subject and encompasses approximately two-thirds of the collection (seven boxes). Olive's class notes, mostly of Smith College literature classes, fill one and a half boxes. There are three boxes of material from her last unpublished work, America, Johannes. Much of this is historical accounts of the first Dutch settlers in the United States. There are two boxes of research material for various writings which focus on the history of the Midwest, including maps and brochures from historic sites. In addition, there are notebooks which Olive kept of lists, plot summaries, and reviews of the books she read, dating from 1904 to 1962. Similar summaries are found among the research notes.

Dates of Materials

  • Creation: 1864-1992
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1894-1958


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use without restriction beyond the standard terms and conditions of Smith College Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The Sophia Smith Collection owns copyright to unpublished works of Olive Beaupré Miller. Copyright to materials created by others may be owned by those individuals or their heirs or assigns. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights. Permission must be obtained from the Sophia Smith Collection to publish reproductions or quotations beyond "fair use."

Biographical / Historical

Olive Kennon Beaupré was born in Aurora, Illinois on September 11, 1883 to William S. and Julia (Brady) Beaupré. She received her B.A. from Smith College in 1904 and returned to Aurora to work as an English teacher at East Aurora High School for two years. In spring of 1906 Olive met Harry Edward Miller, a salesman for D. Appleton and Company. Soon after meeting Olive, Harry went to work for Lamson Brothers, a Chicago-based grain brokerage firm. Olive and Harry were married October 2, 1907. Olive took her first trip to Europe in 1908, accompanied by her friend Alene Williams and a tour group, and later by Harry. After returning to the United States, Harry was transferred by Lamson Brothers, to Streator, Illinois, where he and Olive joined the Christian Science Church. In 1912 the Millers moved again when Harry was transferred to Chicago, Illinois. Their daughter, Virginia Beaupré Miller, was born December 30, 1912.

Olive began writing rhymes and stories to entertain her child, and was encouraged by Harry to publish some of her writings. In 1917, the same year the Millers moved to Winnetka, Illinois, P.F. Volland Company published "Sunny Rhymes for Happy Children." P.F. Volland Company published two more of Olive's works, "Come Play with Me" and "Whisk Away on a Sunbeam," in 1918. Olive also published selected stories and poetry in The Christian Science Monitor that year.

In 1919 Olive founded The Book House for Children publishing company with Harry, who had resigned from his job with Lamson Brothers. Olive assumed the title of Editor and published all of her subsequent material either solely through The Book House or through other publishing companies in conjunction with The Book House. On May 8 of the same year Olive had her second child John who died shortly after birth. Olive published the first volume of the My Book House series in 1920 and set to work on the next five volumes. My Book House became the first collection of children's literature which was graded to meet the developing needs and abilities of children at different ages.

The Millers returned to Europe with Virginia in 1923 to collect material in France and Holland for her next series of children's books. The first two volumes of My Travelship: "Nursery Friends from France" and "Little Pictures of Japan," were published in 1925, followed by "Tales Told in Holland" in 1926. In December of 1927 the Millers went to the Eastern Mediterranean where Olive collected material for more books, traveling through Egypt, Palestine, and Arabia.

Olive began publishing the nine volume series A Picturesque Tale of Progress in 1929. She spent the next year making trips to the Southwest U.S., Mexico, Guatemala, and Yucatan. In 1931 she returned to Europe to gather more material in Germany, Austria, and Yugoslavia. In 1933 Engines and Brass Bands was published by Doubleday Doran, and in 1934 Olive revised My Book House, expanding the series from six volumes to twelve.

Her involvement in introducing sex education to public schools at Winnetka, Illinois led Olive to write an article in the June 1934 edition of Childhood Interests, A Digest for Parents and Teachers entitled "How Mothers and Fathers May Tell Children the Facts of Sex," and in 1935 she collaborated with George L. Bird to edit the book How Life Begins.

When Olive and Harry were divorced in May 1935, he resigned his position as President of The Book House. In addition to being Editor, Olive was elected Vice-President by the Board of Directors, who hoped that this post would keep her from pursuing a more managerial role in the company. Olive achieved the position of Chairman of the Board in 1939 and held it until 1954. In 1939 Olive published Heroes, Outlaws and Funny Fellows with Doubleday Doran, and Heroes of the Bible a year later with Dickson Publishing Company.

The Book House for Children was sold to United Educators in 1954, and moved in 1955 to Tangley Oaks at Lake Bluff, Illinois. Olive remained Chairman of the Board in an advisory capacity until she retired in 1962. Then she moved to Tucson, Arizona where she lived with her daughter Virginia (Miller) Read and family until her death on March 25, 1968.


5.502 linear feet (16 containers)


Publisher; Children's author; Teacher of English; and Christian Scientist. Founder of the publishing company, The Book House for Children, the first collection of children's literature graded to meet developing needs and abilities of children at different ages. Materials include published and unpublished writings, including creative short stories of her youth and extensively researched historical novels of her later years; correspondence; literary manuscripts; memorabilia; drawings; photographs; and autobiographies of maternal grandfather, Lorenzo Dow Brady, and husband, Harry Edward Miller.


This collection is organized into three series:

  1. I. Biographical
  2. II. Writings
  3. III. Notes and Research Materials

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Olive Beaupré Miller's papers were donated to the Sophia Smith Collection in several installments from 1977 to 1994 by her daughter, Virginia Beaupré (Miller) Read. The first edition of Engines and Brass Bands was donated by Esther Booth Wiley, Class of 1934.

Processing Information

Processed 1995.

Olive Beaupre Miller papers
Finding Aid
Finding aid prepared by mnsss.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Encoding funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Revision Statements

  • 07/26/2017: This resource was modified by the ArchivesSpace Preprocessor developed by the Harvard Library (
  • 2005-09-23: mnsss48 converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02-5c.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • 2017-07-26T17:48:20-04:00: This record was migrated from InMagic DB Textworks to ArchivesSpace.
  • 2022-03-03: Integrated description of oversized materials

Repository Details

Part of the Sophia Smith Collection of Women's History Repository

Neilson Library
7 Neilson Drive
Northampton MA 01063