The Addition Series: Nancy Luce
At a time when women weren’t as widely accepted, Luce found comfort in her chickens to combat debilitating disease and poverty. To keep them warm during winter she even constructed an underground chicken house!
Some saw her as an inspiration, while others saw her as a cause. Many of her fans decorated her gravesite with ceramic and plastic chickens as an expression of their admiration for this legendary figure.
Early Life and Education
As Nancy Luce’s health declined, she withdrew into herself and isolated herself from society. Despite illness and mourning the deaths of both parents, she was still able to support herself by earning money as a courier and selling knit items she made from them on eBay. Additionally, she self-published several small books, including one about chickens.
Dr. Luce has served as superintendent of Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua for 12 years, earning both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Marietta College as well as master’s and PhD degrees from Ohio State University. She has represented CTE on multiple state committees and workgroups and her expertise is frequently sought-after; currently she acts as facilitator for Ohio Association of Career-Technical Education facilitator. Luce’s research focuses on CTE as well as its impact on student outcomes.
Luce was an articulate and controversial public figure who wrote and spoke extensively on political, social and cultural topics. She published fiction plays, newspaper columns and magazine editorials as well as testified before Congress and on lecture circuit. After her conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1946 religious themes became one of her primary concerns; other areas documented include foreign policy issues such as international relations or philanthropy. Luce kept diaries, journals entries as well as financial/property records for her properties as well as entertainment files containing art/ literary materials as well as scrapbooks.
Correspondence forms a central theme in the Luce Papers. This series contains letters both general and personal in nature; those related to her public statements during Trieste crisis; as well as correspondence from friends and colleagues regarding politics, literature, religion or other topics.
Achievement and Honors
On Monday in Columbus, UVCC Superintendent Jan Luce was honored as Ohio Association for Career Technical Education’s Administrator of the Year. Before her time as UVCC’s superintendent she previously held positions as school psychologist, coordinator of special education, student parent community services director and pupil services director with Delaware City Schools.
UMass Dartmouth will receive a $45,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation to host an exhibition and public programs honoring Massachusetts-born artist Nancy Holt, including her room installation Electrical System (1982) making its American premiere. The Henry Luce Foundation supports projects that advance museums’ role in open and equitable societies by providing forums for art-centered conversations that explore difference and seek common ground through dialogue between art forms; its grants also enable artists to expand their practice with collaborations from institutions, communities and individuals.
As her health declined, Luce found comfort in her bantam flock. She wrote poetry and stories about them and created an underground chicken house which kept them cool in summer and warm in winter; when Ada Queetie and Beauty Linna died she commissioned marble headstones as memorials.
The Chicken Gravyard is an incredible testament to the transformative power of love. Through poetry, its poetry catalogues all the small quirks every owner notices about their pets; particularly poignant are those Luce has noticed in hers. When her former life unraveled around her, new perspective helped her continue caring. Luce truly loved and cared deeply for these hens – they were like family to her. She owed them everything.
Nancy Luce’s life remains one of the most fascinating in history, particularly given she died alone at home in 1890. Her eccentric love for chickens made her an icon locally; even as she lay dying visitors came to pay their respects and leave ceramic or plastic chickens at her gravesite.
Luce was born into a family with limited means, yet suffered a debilitating illness at an early age that left her disabled for life. To cope, she found comfort in writing poems about chickens as comfort. Additionally, she worked tirelessly to raise awareness for mental health issues and was an inspiration to many who struggle with depression or other forms of mental illness.