By Sarah Alger, Processing Archivist,
Trinity University Special Collections and Archives
Over the past six months, I have learned
a lot from Dr. Char Miller. I’ve reviewed his research, studied his syllabi,
skimmed numerous articles he both wrote and is quoted in, and puzzled over
countless photographs and letters. No, he was not ever my professor – although
I would have loved to take one of his classes. Instead, my knowledge comes from the records Dr. Miller donated to Trinity University's Special Collections and Archives a few years ago. These records include coverage of his time on Trinity’s History and Urban Studies faculty
|Dr. Char Miller|
Going through Dr. Miller’s
records was overwhelming at times. Forty bankers’ boxes of paper is a
significant amount to sort through. Whenever I came across something that caught
my eye, the frantic sorting stopped and for a moment I was lost in a comic book
version of the story of Hanukkah, an interview with a woman who escaped the
Germans’ invasion of Romania in 1940, or a particularly funny letter from a
long ago friend.
In late November 1951, Frank L.
Miller III and his wife, Helen, welcomed their fourth child, and first boy, into the world.
Following in the footsteps of Millers previously, they named their son Franklin
Lubbock Miller IV. However, the Millers, in order to avoid one more Frank around
the house, came up with the nickname Char, which means ‘four’ in Hindi.
Miller kept meticulous notes on
all of his work, with multiple folders labeled and organized according to
Miller’s own system. Countless newspaper clippings, email printouts and hand
written notes fill his research files. I worked hard to help ensure that Dr.
Miller’s system remained intact, while developing a comprehensible and
accessible hierarchy for potential researchers.
Within Dr. Miller’s records,
there is substantial information about the great Gifford Pinchot, the first
Chief of the US Forest Service and the evolution of the study of forestry. Dr.
Miller wrote and edited many articles for the Journal of Forestry, Forest
Magazine Review, and Society of American Foresters. Additionally, Miller’s dissertation
research looked at the Bingham family: Hiram I, II, III, Alfred and Stephen.
The first generations were some of the pioneer Christian missionaries to the
Hawai’ian islands, while the latter Bingham spent time as a fugitive in Paris.
Dr. Miller was not only
interested in other families, like the Binghams, but his own as well. His
records contain extensive genealogical materials on both the Miller family and
his in-laws, the Lipsetts. Dr. Miller’s father, Frank L. Miller III, served at
Kelley Air Field base during World War II. When Miller III passed away, Miller
IV inherited and organized all of his personal effects. For a good snapshot on
the daily life of a local Texas soldier during WWII, Miller III’s papers
provide much insight.
|Mitzi Lipsett and Heinz in Israel|
Dr. Miller is most known at
Trinity for his work in the history and environmental studies departments,
however his interests extend far beyond that. In addition to his academic
endeavors, Dr. Miller was an active member of the San Antonio community. He wrote
multiple opinion pieces and is quoted in articles in local San Antonio
publications as well as some international periodicals. He even ran for the
board for the Alamo Heights Independent School District. Additionally, Dr.
Miller and his wife, Judi helped start the Beth Am Congregation. Consequently, a number of essays and research within the records pertain to
the Jewish faith.
Another hidden gem in the
collection includes Dr. Miller’s interview with his wife’s step-grandmother,
Mitzi Lipsett, and Mizti’s brother, Artur. There are some amazing photographs
from this time in the mixed media collection.
|Peter Sobel and Nurse Sinara in Rumania (sic)|
Sifting through Dr. Miller’s
records taught me a great deal – most of it was totally unexpected. If you are
curious about the history of forestry, or the community of San Antonio from the
past thirty years, Dr. Miller’s records provide a multitude of research
opportunities. I encourage you to peruse our finding aid or stop by during
reading room hours to learn more about what this unique collection has to