Woman of the Century/Olive Thome Miller
MILLER, Mrs. Olive Thorne, author, naturalist and humanitarian, born in Auburn, N. Y., 25th June. 1831. She was married at an early age. Her husband is descended from a sterling New England family and Mrs. Miller said that with them "the dish-cloth was mightier than the pen," at least so far as women were concerned, in her youth it was the custom of the time to disapprove a woman's ambition to give play to her talents, and Mrs. Miller allowed herself to be guided by those about her. When her four children hail grown up, she began to write for young people, but about twelve years ago she became interested in birds and wrote of their habits for an older audience and since then she has mainly confined herself to that field of work. OLIVE THORNE MILLER. She lived in Chicago, 111., for twenty years after her marriage and it was in that city she made her appearance as an author. Her talents are of a high order, and her field was practically unoccupied, so that she was soon able to get a hearing. Among her productions are "Little Folks in Feathers and Furs" (New York, 1879); "Queer Pets at Marcy's" (New York, 1880); "Little People of Asia" (New York, 1883); "Bird Ways" (Boston, 1885), and "In Nesting Time ' (Boston, 1888). She became known as a specialist on birds, but she has done much other literary work, including descriptive work for children, articles upon natural history and various kinds of manufactures for the children's magazines, and a series of papers on "Our Daughters at Home" for "Harper's Bazaar," in which her decided views in die training of children and of the bad effect of much that goes by that name found expression. She loves all birds and nature devotedly. Her articles have appeared in the "Atlantic Monthly," "Harper's Magazine," "Harper's Bazaar" and other journals. Among the birds she has studied with exhaustive care are several species of thrush, the kingbird, the catbird, the red-wing black- bird, the bluebird, the Baltimore oriole, the mocking-bird, the English sparrow, the golden-wing woodpecker, the thrasher or brown thrush, the Virginia cardinal, the scarlet tanager and the rose-breasted grosbeak, all of which are described in her volumes, "In Nesting Time" and "Bird Ways." Her "Little Brothers of the Air" (Boston, 1892) contained studies of the bobolink, the junco, the redstart and other birds. In the summer she studies the birds out of doors, and in her winter home in Brooklyn, N. Y., she has a room given up entirely to her pets, and there she studies their habits in confinement. She devotes herself absolutely to birds out of doors through the nesting mouths of June and July, taking copious notes of everything she sees and thinks. Through August and September she works up her notes into magazine and newspaper articles, working undisturbed from morning till night. The rest of the year she gives to her family, her clubs and club friends, to the observation of pet birds in her room and to literary work pursued in a more leisurely and less exacting fashion than during her busy period. She has consistently and persistently opposed the wearing of birds and bird-wings on women's donnets, and one of her pointed articles on that custom, which appeared in the "Chautauquan," was the means of stirring up a great deal of interest in the matter. With all her allection for her birds, she is very fond of society, and in Brooklyn, where she has been living thirteen years, her benevolent face is frequently seen in social assemblages. She is a member of the Brooklyn Woman's Club, of Sorosis, of the Meridian Club, and of the Seidl Society. She is a member of the Women's Unitarian League, although she is not a Unitarian and attends the New Church, or Swedenborgian. Her views are broad, liberal and exalted. She recognizes the great educational value of women's clubs and believes that those organizations are working a revolution among women. She has published a book on the subject, "The Woman's Club," (New York, 1891). Although she is now a grandmother, she preserves her freshness of disposition and her mental activity unimpaired. The name by which she is so widely known is neither her own name nor wholly a pen-name. Years ago, when she was writing about the making of pianos, jewelry, lead pencils and various things for the old "Our Young Folks," she had a pen-name, "Olive Thome. As her work grew in quantity, she found it extremely inconvenient to have two names, and she compounded her pen-name and her husband's name into Olive Thome Miller, by which she is now known everywhere outside her own family.