Harriet Mills was born November 6, 1896, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Robert C. Mills. She graduated from Park River High School and, in 1920, from the University of North Dakota with a Bachelor of Arts. Harriet married Douglas McKay soon after her graduation. Harriet died August 13, 1949, and is buried in San Francisco. Harriet gained national recognition for her poetry and, at the time of her death, her poems were in high demand by magazines with a national circulation.
Douglas McKay was born August 21, 1894, in St. Thomas, North Dakota. He graduated from UND in 1917 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. He was inducted in the military on September 19, 1917, and was discharged February 2, 1919, as a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1937, the family moved to the Philippines where Douglas became the manager-director of a gold mine. They fled at the outbreak of World War II and went into hiding with guerillas in the jungle for nearly two years, returning to the U.S. in 1944. In 1947, they returned to the Philippines, but were again forced to return to the U.S. in 1948 due to health issues. Douglas died May 28, 1949, and is also buried in San Francisco.
The first folder has UND documents containing Douglas McKay’s membership certificate in Sigma Chi, pages and photocopies from The Dacotah with pictures of Harriet McKay and information about the UND football team, as well as photocopies from The Alumni Review with information about the lives of Harriet and Douglas McKay, as well as Olive Mills Moe. The second folder consists of the program from Douglas McKay’s high school graduation as well as programs from UND events ranging from school dances to graduations. The third folder consists of articles from the Grand Forks Herald about Harriet McKay, and from Walsh Heritage, with a biography of the McKay family, as well as printouts from Ancestry.com containing Douglas McKay’s military record and Harriet McKay’s entry in the California Death Index. The final folder contains four photographs from Harriet McKay’s UND drama career.
There is one oversize folder with articles from the Grand Forks Herald, The Industrial Collegian, The Student, The Fargo Daily Courier-News, and The St. Paul Pioneer Press. These articles are about the UND football team on which Douglas participated.
Harriet Mills-McKay was a UND Graduate from the class of 1920, who found great interest in theater arts and mainly poetry. This collection consists of poems written, typed, and published from the different periods of her life, beginning with her travels with her husband in the Western United States during his time in different mining camps. Some of the poetry was even written during her captive years in the Philippines during World War II. The poems are organized into folders by location and topic and organized as chronologically as possible within the box. The collection has a wide range of loose papers, journals, typed and published poetry. There are likely multiple copies of certain poems as some of them are both handwritten and typed into publications.