Olive Beaupré Miller Papers
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.