Alice Duer Miller

Suffrage Activist and Satirical Poet

Alice Duer Miller residence. Living room window side view. East Side, Manhattan
Alice Duer Miller residence. Living room window side view. East Side, Manhattan. MCNY/Gottscho-Schleisner / Getty Images

Known for: woman's suffrage activist, writer of satirical poems advocating woman suffrage

Occupation: journalist, writer
Dates: July 28, 1874 - August 22, 1942

Alice Duer Miller Biography

Alice Duer Miller was born and raised in the wealthy, influential Duer family of New York. After her formal debut into society, her family's wealth was lost in a bank crisis. She studied mathematics and astronomy at Barnard College beginning in 1895, earning her way through publishing short stories, essays and poems in national magazines.

Alice Duer Miller graduated from Barnard in June 1899 and married Henry Wise Miller in October of that year. She began teaching and he initiated a career in business. As he succeeded in business and as a stock trader, she was able to give up teaching and devote herself to writing.

Her specialty was in light fiction. Alice Duer Miller also traveled and worked for woman suffrage, writing a column "Are Women People?" for the New York Tribune. Her columns were published in 1915 as and more columns in 1917 as Women are People!

By the 1920s her stories were being made into successful motion pictures, and Alice Duer Miller worked in Hollywood as a writer and even as acted (a bit part) in Soak the Rich.

Her 1940 story, The White Cliffs, is perhaps her best-known story, and its World War II theme of a marriage of an American to a British soldier made it a favorite on both sides of the Atlantic.

About Alice Duer Miller:

  • Categories: writer, poet
  • Organizational Affiliations: Harper's Bazaar, New York Tribune, Hollywood, New Republic
  • Places: New York, Hollywood, California, United States
  • Period: 20th century

Selected Alice Duer Miller Quotations

• About Alice Duer Miller, by Henry Wise Miller: "Alice had a special affection for librarians."

• The Logic of the Law: In 1875 the Supreme Court of Wisconsin in denying the petition of women to practise before it said: "It would be shocking to man's reverence for womanhood and faith in woman ... that woman should be permitted to mix professionally in all the nastiness which finds its way into courts of justice." It then names thirteen subjects as unfit for the attention of women --three of them are crimes committed against women.

• [M]en are too emotional to vote. Their conduct at baseball games and political conventions shows this, while their innate tendency to appeal to force renders them unfit for government.

• To the Great Dining Out Majority

The New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage is sending out leaflets to its members urging them to "tell every man you meet, your tailor, your postman, your grocer, as well as your dinner partner, that you are opposed to woman suffrage."

We hope that the 90,000 sewing machine operatives, the 40,000 saleswomen, the 32,000 laundry operatives, the 20,000 knitting and silk mill girls, the 17,000 women janitors and cleaners, the 12,000 cigarmakers, to say nothing of the 700,000 other women and girls in industry in New York State will remember when they have drawn off their long gloves and tasted their oysters to tell their dinner partners that they are opposed to woman suffrage because they fear it might take women out of the home.

•  On Not Believing All You Hear
("Women are angels, they are jewels, they are queens and princesses of our hearts." - Anti-suffrage speech of Mr. Carter of Oklahoma.)

"ANGEL, or jewel, or princess, or queen,
Tell me immediately, where have you been?"
"I've been to ask all my slaves so devoted
Why they against my enfranchisement voted."
"Angel and princess, that action was wrong.
Back to the kitchen, where angels belong."

• Said Mr. Jones in 1910:
"Women, subject yourselves to men."
Nineteen-Eleven heard him quote:
"They rule the world without the vote."
By Nineteen-Twelve, he would submit
"When all the women wanted it."
By Nineteen-Thirteen, looking glum,
He said that it was bound to come.
This year I heard him say with pride:
"No reasons on the other side!"
By Nineteen-Fifteen, he'll insist
He's always been a suffragist.


And what is really stanger, too,
He'll think that what he says is true.

• Sometimes We're Ivy, and Sometimes We're Oak

IS it true that the English government is calling on women to do work abandoned by men?
Yes, it is true.
Is not woman's place the home? 
No, not when men need her services outside the home.
Will she never be told again that her place is the home?
Oh, yes, indeed.
When?
As soon as men want their jobs back again.

• When a woman like that whom I've seen so much
All of a sudden drops out of touch
Is always busy and never can
Spare you a moment, it means a Man
from "Forsaking All Others"