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The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture


Ornithologist Margaret Morse was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on December 6, 1883, to Anson Daniel and Margaret Ely Morse. She received a bachelor's degree from Mount Holyoke College in 1906. In 1909 she wed Leonard Blaine Nice. In 1913 they moved to Norman, Oklahoma, where he was professor of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Oklahoma. She received a master's degree from Clark University in 1915. During her stay in Oklahoma Margaret Nice studied Oklahoma birds, and in 1924 she published a seminal work, The Birds of Oklahoma. She and others battled to save the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge. In 1928 she and her husband moved to Chicago, and she commenced her classic studies of the song sparrow.

For her outstanding studies on birds she became a Fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union and received its Brewster Medal in 1942. Honorary doctor of science degrees were awarded to her by Mount Holyoke College (1942) and Elmira College (1962). She published more than 250 papers on birds, which made her a foremost leader in the study of bird ethology. Margaret Nice died on June 26, 1974, in Chicago, Illinois.

Charles C. Carpenter


Marcia Myers Bonta, Women in the Field: America's Pioneering Women Naturalists (College Station: Texas A&M Press, 1991).

Margaret Morse Nice, Research is a Passion with Me, ed. Doris Huestis Speirs (Toronto, Canada: Consolidated Amethyst Communications, Inc., 1979).

Margaret Morse Nice, The Birds of Oklahoma (Rev. ed.; Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1931).

K. B. Sterling et al., eds., Biographical Dictionary of American and Canadian Naturalists and Environmentalists (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Charles C. Carpenter, “Nice, Margaret Morse,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=NI001.

Published January 15, 2010

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