PAPERS, 1938 - 1996 and undated

5 linear inches


ACQUISITION: The papers (donor no. 426) were donated by Miriam Baker Nye in 1997.

ACCESS: The papers are open for research.

COPYRIGHT: Copyright has been transferred to the University of Iowa.


PROCESSED BY: Lisa Peperkorn, 1997.




          Miriam M. Hawthorn Baker Nye, mother, author, researcher, and public speaker, was born in Monona County, Iowa on June 14, 1918 to Dr. and Mrs. H. B. Hawthorn. Through her childhood she lived with her family in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio, as they moved to follow her father's job as a university professor. Miriam Baker Nye graduated from high school in Castana, Iowa in 1935, then continued her education at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. At Morningside she was involved with the Morningside Manuscript, an undergraduate, creative writing publication. She graduated with a B.A in 1939. After two years of junior high teaching in Rock Falls, Illinois, she married Carl Baker on June 21, 1941. The couple lived for a short time in Spencer, Iowa, and then moved to Moville, Iowa, where they had two children, Kent and Dale Baker. Miriam Baker taught school in Moville Community school, which later became Woodbury Central school from 1957 to 1964. She was widowed on May 12, 1970 when her husband was killed in a car accident. Three years later, on December 25, 1973, she married the Reverend John Nye, a Methodist minister whom she met on a Christian Heritage tour. She was highly active in the church in addition to assisting in the research and writing of Between the Rivers, a church history by Reverend Nye.

          An activity that spanned many years of her life was her work as an author and poet. She wrote the column "From the Kitchen Window" from 1953-1981 for the Sioux City Journal Farm Weekly. Miriam Baker became the authority on rural women through her column as she wrote of diverse topics ranging from recipes (later to be collected in Recipes and Ideas "From the Kitchen Window") to families to community and rural life. Partially as a result of her column's fame, she also came to be sought-after as a public speaker.

          In addition to the recipe book, Nye wrote But I Never Thought He'd Die : Practical Help for Widows (Westminster Press, 1978).


Scope and Content Note

         The Miriam Baker Nye papers date from 1938 to 1996 and measure 5 linear inches. The papers are arranged alphabetically by folder title: Biographical, Correspondence, Photographs, Religious activity, Teaching, Writings.

          The Biographical material (1939 - 1996 and undated) consists of newspaper articles about her poetry, books and speaking engagements, as well as personal events such as graduations. It also includes a few articles regarding her first husband Carl Baker and his death. Also, this series includes several of her informative annual Christmas letters.

          Correspondence (1943 - 1987 and undated) includes personal letters she received from readers of her column, including several from children and grade school classes, and business letters primarily concerning her column and poetry contests she won.

          The Photographs folder (1958 - 1980) includes pictures of Miriam Baker Nye with her family and with a fellow author, Gladys Kooiman.

          Religious activity (1966 - 1992 and undated) includes newsletters and articles pertaining to the THEOS Foundation and to her work with Methodist and other Christian organizations.

          The Teaching activity folder (1965) includes programs from workshops that she led for junior high school teachers.

          Writings (1938 - 1993 and undated) include Nye's various venues of published and unpublished works -- books, "From the Kitchen Window," other newspaper articles, poetry, and a speech in which she talks about how to become a columnist. Miriam Baker Nye wrote, or assisted in the writing of, three books which are shelved with the published works : But I Never Thought He'd Die (Westminster Press, 1978), Recipes and Ideas "From the Kitchen Window" (General Publishing and Binding, 1973), and Between the Rivers : A History of Iowa United Methodism (The Archives and History Commission of Iowa Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church, 1986). Between the Rivers was actually written by her second husband, Reverend John Nye, but Miriam Baker Nye was involved with its publication.

          All typed notes on note cards and slips of paper were supplied by Miriam Baker Nye at the time she donated her papers to the Iowa Women's Archives.


Box no. Description

Box 1
                                General, 1938-1981 and undated
                                Holiday letters, 1959-1996 (scattered)

                               Business, 1942 - 1978 and undated
                               Personal, 1955 - 1983 and undated

                       Photographs, 1958 - 1980

                       Religious activity, 1966 - 1992

                       Teaching activity, 1965

                               "From the Kitchen Window," Sioux City Farm Journal Weekly,
                                   1953 - 1981 and undated
                               Poetry, 1938 - 1993 and undated
                               Speech, 1965
                                   "Confessions of a Columnist" [given to the Sioux Chapter of
                                         the National Secretaries Association]
                               Miscellaneous, 1966 - 1989