Miriam Nelke

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Portrait of Miriam Nelke
"Miriam Nelke was born in New York City on July 27, 1868. She never married, even though she extolled marriage and motherhood as the only truly successful career for women.

She began to recite at public gatherings when she was six years old, developing her skill to the point that she eventually made speaking her life’s work.

After finishing high school, she accepted an appointment to teach at Quincy Conservatory of Music. She then taught and presented plays and readings at Fort Worth University. In New Orleans, her next move, she gave many recitals. She early attained membership in what later became the National Speech Arts Association. Following three years in New York, she moved to Provo, where she taught at Brigham Young Academy under Presidents Cluff and Brimhall. In 1906-1907, she served as Head over Special Elocution. After eight years in Provo, she moved to San Francisco, forming the Butler-Nelke Academy of Dramatic Arts in October 1908. In 1915 she returned to New York, doing volunteer war work for the Red Cross and other groups. In 1921 she moved to Hollywood, teaching private classes in speech and drama. She established the Nelke Players, gave public readings, and became a well-known figure in Hollywood, where she died on December 19, 1943.

Her popularity in Provo led to the formation of the Nelke Reading Club, which she was very excited about. Her devoted service to her profession warrants the honor now accorded her in the naming of the Miriam Nelke Experimental Theatre in the Harris Fine Arts Center.


  • Special Program for Naming of Areas, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Tuesday, November 23, 1965 at Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602.
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