Lorus and Margery Milne Papers, 1924-2005

Collection number: MC 314 [Partially stored offsite]
Size: (11 boxes) (11 cu.ft.)

About Lorus and Margery Milne

Drs. Lorus and Margery Milne were an eminent husband-and-wife team, who worked together as biologists, teachers, writers, lecturers, and experts on ecology.

Lorus Johnson Milne was born in Toronto, Canada on Sept. 12, 1910. He graduated from the University of Toronto (1933) and received a gold medal and a scholarship to Harvard for graduating with highest honors. He received his MA (1934) and PhD from Harvard (1936).

Margery J. Greene was born on Jan. 18, 1912 in the Bronx, NY. Margery attended Wadleigh High School (an all-girls school) and then Hunter College (1933), where she studied biology. She obtained her M.A. at Columbia (1934). She then attended Radcliffe where she earned an MA (1936) and her PhD (1939).

Lorus and Margery met in the summer of 1934, when both enrolled in a summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratories at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The attraction between the two was instantaneous and before the end of the summer, they had become engaged. They then began a long-distance relationship as Margery returned to her teaching job in New York and Lorus to Harvard to finish his PhD. The couple wrote to each other almost daily and visited when their schedules (and finances) allowed. On September 10, 1936, they were quietly married by the Justice of the Peace before once again separating to pursue their professional careers. It would be five years before they would finally live together.

In 1948, they both received faculty appointments at the University of New Hampshire. Lorus Milne was appointed associate professor of zoology; retiring as full professor in 1976. Margery Milne was appointed as assistant professor of zoology, but three years later, was forced to resign her tenure track position because policy prohibited married couples from being on the faculty in the same department. However, she continued teaching courses at the University and for nearby colleges.

The Milnes quickly came to enjoy the variety and quality of life in Durham and the surrounding area. In 1963 when a small business located on Durham's Mill Pond closed and the land was rezoned as residential, the Milnes bought it. Their intention was not to live on it, but to preserve it as a nature area for all to enjoy. (Today, it is part of the Mill Pond Park and Dam.) Soon after, the first of many generations of swans arrived to live on the pond. In 1968, the Milnes were appointed Durham’s Keepers of the Swans and began recording the activities of the swans; a task that they continued for the rest of their lives.

For over 50 years, the couple alternated between teaching and traveling. They gave workshops and lectures around the world and collaborated on writing books and articles. Together they wrote a total of 55 books and 100 magazine articles. Their biology textbook, The Biotic World and Man, was used by colleges across the country and translated into Russian.

Lorus died suddenly in 1987 at age 77, leaving Margery to persevere on her own. Margery continued to teach, write (including completing two books they had been working on before he died) and travel until several serious falls limited her activities. She was 94 when she died on Feb. 28, 2006

About the Milne Papers

The processed boxes in this collection include correspondence with each other, family, friends, fans, some business correspondence and professional activities. There are also personal diaries, and school ephemera, newspaper clippings, and swan materials. Additional boxes of supplementary materials are held in the library storage building and include business correspondence with book publishers, book reviews and magazine publications, teaching and research materials, subject files, slides and photographs.

This collection of 123 cubic feet of materials has been rough sorted and partially processed. The materials described in this finding aid are held in the Dimond library while the unprocessed materials are held offsite.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open. (Please contact the Special Collections staff for access to the materials held in the Library Storage Building prior to arriving at the library.)

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Box Number] Lorus and Margery Milne Papers, 1924-2004, MC 314, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Donated by Margery Milne; bulk received after her death in 2006.

Collection Contents

Box 1
Lorus Milne, 1924-1936

This box containes diaries, school records and books, diplomas and newspaper clipping about L. Milne.

Box 2
Margery Greene Milne, 1923-2005

This box contains diaries and travel journals, early school records, Margery's activities after Lorus's death, the Mill Pond property and autobiographical works (written by both).

Box 3
Correspondence: Lorus and Margery, 1934-1942

This box contains correspondence primarily between Lorus and Margery during the times they were living apart. There is also some correspondence with the various universities they attended and a few friends. There is one folder of family photographs.

Box 4
Correspondence: Milne family, 1930-1949

This box contains corresondence with Lorus's family (father Stanley Milne, mother Edna Johnson Milne and his grandfather.)

Note: Both Lorus and Margery wrote letters to each other's parents as well as thier own, the salutation is often simply "Dear Folks" and is signed "Us". The letters with envelopes were sorted by the addressee. Letters without envelopes were sorted as best possible without close reading of each one; it is possible that some of the letters are with the wrong family.

Box 5
Correspondence: Milne and Greene families, 1923-1966

This box contains the end of the correspondence with the Milne family, 1950-1958 and the first correspondence with the Greene family, 1923-1966. [Margery's parents were Samuel and Rebecca (Gutman) Greenberg and she had an older sister, Ruth. Samuel immigrated from Roumania in 1895. In 1933 the family changed their surname from Greenberg to Greene. It also appears that Samuel changed his first name to Harrison S. and Rebecca became Beatrice; the girls' names did not change.]

Box 6
Correspondence: Gutman and Greene families, 1922-1960s

This box contains correspondence with Ruth Greene, Beatrice Greene and the Gutmans.

Box 7
Correspondence: Mixed, 1940-2000

This box contains a mix of correspondence with publishers, concerning professional activities, from fans, friends and acquaintances. It is arranged by subject.

Box 8
Professional activities, 1940-2000

The box contains papers, correspondence and ephemera from the Milne's work as researchers, writers, lecturers and travelers.

Box 9
Correspondence: Margery, 1988-2005

This box contains correspondence with Margery after Lorus's death in 1987. It is arranged alphabetically by last name of sender.

Box 10
Correspondence: Margery, late

This box contains correspondence, mostly Christmas cards, from the last few years of Margery's life. The cards sustained water damage and are unsorted.

Box 11
Swan materials, 1968-2005

This box contains materials related to the Milne's role as Keep of the Swans, including annual reports to the town, articles, Mill Pond guided tours, newspaper clippings, fan mail, and photographs.

Finding Aid Image TEMP
Margery and Lorus, 1977


Letters & Postcards
Manuscripts & Typescripts
Newspapers & Publications
Photographs, Slides & Negatives