Kenneth Dexter Miller, Papers,

ca. 1910-1969

Immigration History Research Center
University of Minnesota

Abstract | Provenance/Processing | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Preliminary Container List


Kenneth Dexter Miller
Papers, ca. 1910-1969
18 linear inches
Preliminary Inventory

Abstract

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Provenance/Processing

The Kenneth Dexter Miller Papers were donated to the Immigration History Research Center in September 1978 by Mrs. Ethel A. P. Miller, wife of the late Kenneth Dexter Miller.  Preliminary inventory prepared for the Internet by Student Assistant Ezalina Hamzah and Assistant Curator Daniel Necas in 2001.

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Biographical Sketch

Kenneth Dexter Miller, a Presbyterian minister, was a leader in interdenominational efforts to make churches responsive to urban needs, especially the needs of ethnic minorities.  He received an A.B. degree from Princeton University in 1908 and a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary in 1912.  After graduation from the seminary, Miller was chosen to participate in a one-year study program in Bohemia.  The time spent in Bohemia was designed as preparation for work among Czech immigrants in the United States.  While Miller was living in Bohemia, he became acquainted with Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (who later became president of Czechoslovakia).  Miller returned to the United States in 1913, and until 1917 he directed social and educational programs at the Jan Hus Neighborhood House in New York.  Miller was employed by the YMCA War Work Council from 1917 to 1919 and was assigned to work with a group of Czech legionnaires.  He traveled with the Czech troops as they marched across Siberia in an offensive effort for the Allies in World War I. Miller then returned to America to continue his work with the Presbyterian Church.

From 1919 to 1928 Miller worked as part of the Presbyterian Board of Home Missions, assisting Slavic immigrants in the United States.  During this time he also traveled abroad to investigate conditions in Czechoslovakia and Eastern Europe, and to initiate programs of relief when necessary.  Miller served as a minister in a New Jersey church from 1928 to 1936.  From 1936 to 1939 he served as Executive Secretary of the Presbytery of Detroit.  In 1937 he was a founding member of the Masaryk Institute of New York, which was established to promote cultural and educational exchange between the United States and Czechoslovakia.  Miller served as head of the New York City Mission Society from 1939 to 1955.  In 1946 Miller took a one-year leave of absence from the Mission Society to work in Prague as chairman of the American Relief for Czechoslovakia program.  Miller was appointed European Director of the work of the American Fund for Czechoslovak Refugees in 1955.  He retired several years later and died on 6 July 1968 in Livingston, New Jersey, at the age of 81.

In 1931 Miller was the first American to be awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from The Hussite Theolgical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague.  He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Princeton University in 1956.  Miller was also awarded the highest decoration of the Order of White Lion of the Czechoslovak Republic of Masaryk and Benes.  He authored many articles and several books
 

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Scope and Content

The Kenneth Dexter Miller Papers cover 1.25 linear feet and consist of personal correspondence, published and unpublished manuscripts, diaries, scrapbooks, postcards, and photographs.

The LITERARY PRODUCTIONS series has six divisions: material related to two books by Miller; speeches, addresses, and prayers; sermons and sermon notes; published and unpublished works; part of a translation of a Czechoslovak children's story entitled Broucci (Firefly); and material related to the unpublished book, Uncle From America. The manuscript was published by the Immigration History Research Center in 2010. The book is available on-line at the following URL: http://www.ihrc.umn.edu/research/vitrage/all/ma/Uncle_from_America2010-9-13.pdf

The first division contains reviews, letters, and advertisements relating to Miller's books Man and God in the City and The People Are the City (copies of which can be found in the IHRC Print Collection).  Most of Miller's speeches and prayers included in the collection were written in conjunction with memorial services in which he participated.  An address given to the New York City Mission Society regarding the problems of immigrants in the city expresses Miller's concern for urban ethnic groups.  Of particular interest within the manuscript section is an essay about Miller's memories of Czechoslovak leader T. G. Masaryk, and an article entitled "The City We Forgot," which discusses the settlement patterns of several immigrant groups in New York.  The materials related to Uncle From America include a typed manuscript, a collection of pictures and photographs (possible illustrations for the book), and letters concerning the possible publication of the book.  Miller wrote the manuscript in the later years of his life.  Its subject is the time Miller spent with the Czech troops in World War I.

 The CORRESPONDENCE series is divided into two sections: letters sent and letters received.  Letters received by Miller cover the years 1917 to 1968 and include both personal and business correspondence.  Early letters contain information regarding Miller's assignment from the YMCA to work with Czechoslovak troops during World War I, including a letter to Miller from the National War Council encouraging Miller to take advantage of this opportunity for "Christian patriotic service," and a letter of introduction for Miller written in Czech.  A letter from a YMCA executive praises Miller's work with the Czechs and encourages him to stay in Bohemia after the war to continue his work.  Also included is a letter to Miller from T. G. Masaryk, then (1918) president of Czechoslovakia.  Miller had written to Masaryk regarding the future of the YMCA in Czechoslovakia.  Masaryk responded with a personal letter to Miller (written in Czech).  Later correspondence, covering the 1940s and 1950s, contains a letter written in the Czech language which outlines problems with religious freedom experienced by the Slovaks in 1938.  Another letter outlines the work of the American Fund for Czechoslovak Refugees, Inc. (whose records for this period are in the IHRC Collection).  Several other letters are of a personal nature and contain comments about Miller's work or publications.  The letters are arranged in chronological order.

The letters sent by Miller span the years 1919 to 1962.  Of particular interest is a letter written to the YMCA director in Russia, reporting on Miller's YMCA work among the Czechs. He makes comments about the influence of the political and military situation among the troops, the outlook for the Czechs after the war, and the personnel of the YMCA War Council.  The letters are arranged in chronological order.

The MEMORABILIA series is arranged in two sequences--the first chronological and the second topical.  The first sequence corresponds roughly to Miller's early, middle, and later career developments.  Materials of interest in the 1910 to 1919 classification include a certificate of identification for Miller which was issued in Petrograd, Miller's contract with the YMCA during World War I, poetry written for Miller by a close friend, and several documents written in Czech relating to his YMCA work.  The 1920 to 1959 materials relate largely to Miller's work as a minister in New Jersey, and to various awards he received. The later items, from 1960 to 1969, include copies of church bulletins for services in which Miller participated, and a number of obituaries for Miller.

The topically arranged sequence is divided into four categories: family history, the New York City Mission Society, newspaper clippings, and miscellaneous items.  A short biography of Miller is included in the first category. Pamphlets and programs make up the bulk of the New York City Mission Society section. The newspaper clippings include articles about Czechoslovakia since World War II, and one clipping from a Czech newspaper.  The miscellaneous category consists of memories of social occasions such as dinner invitations and menus.

The PHOTOGRAPHS, PICTURES, AND POSTCARDS series is divided into five sections:  T. G. Masaryk; pictures of Miller, family, and friends; pictures from Miller's Siberian journey; and a miscellaneous section containing a large number of Czechoslovakian scenic postcards and unidentifiable photographs and pictures.

The ETHEL P. MILLER (Mrs. Kenneth Dexter Miller) series contains a group of letters and postcards received by Mrs. Miller from her former Vassar College roommate, Mrs. 0. K. Sherwin.  The letters are of a personal nature and pertain largely to the day-to-day activities of the two families.  Also included is a copy of Mrs. Miller's vita, and a letter to Mrs. Miller from another personal friend.  The letters cover the years 1955 to 1957 and are arranged in chronological order.

The DIARIES series contains four of Miller's personal diaries.  Two of the diaries cover the time Miller spent in Bohemia in 1912 and 1913 and are focused particularly on the religious attitudes of the Bohemians.  Miller discusses such topics as moral standards, religious groups, and the role of the Presbyterian Church in the country.  His comments also provide a personal account of early 20th century university life in what is now Czechoslovakia.

The remaining two diaries relate to Miller's Siberian trek in 1917 to 1919.  His personal comments reveal the daily life of the Czech legionnaires in World War I. They also contain Miller's perceptions of political attitudes of the troops, levels of morale, and reactions to significant battles and decisions during the war.

The final series, SCRAPBOOKS, contains two of Miller's scrapbooks.  The first was given to Miller upon his retirement from the New York City Mission Society and contains letters and photographs from employees and friends.  The second scrapbook is related to the honorary Doctor of Divinity degree awarded to Miller by Princeton University in 1956.  It contains letters, pamphlets, programs, and other memorabilia from the occasion.

Miller's papers also include a four-volume stamp collection (stored separately from the general collection).  The volumes consist of Czechoslovak stamps issued during the years 1918 to 1960, which Miller has arranged topically.  He also provided short descriptive essays explaining personages or events pictured on the stamps and their significance in Czechoslovak history.  Miller originally began collecting Czechoslovak stamps while in Czechoslovakia in 1918.  He continued to do so until 1939, when the German army invaded Czechoslovakia.  In 1946 the Czech Minister of Post added to Miller's collection by presenting Miller with a collection of all Czech stamps issued during the Nazi occupation.  Miller added to his collection in the 1950s while working with Czech refugees in Europe

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Preliminary Container List

 
Box Folder Folder Title
    I. LITERARY PRODUCTIONS
1 1 Materials related to Man and God in the City and The People Are the City
  2 Speeches, addresses, and prayers
  3 Sermons and sermon notes
  4 Published and unpublished manuscripts
  5 Broucci (Firefly) translation
  6-17 Uncle From America manuscript material
     
    II. CORRESPONDENCE 
  18 Letters received, 1917 to 1968
  19 Letters sent, 1919 to 1962
     
    III. MEMORABILIA
  20 1910 to 1919
  21 1920 to 1959
  22 1960 to 1969
  23 Family history
  24 New York City Mission Society
  25 Newspaper clippings, general
  26 Miscellaneous
     
    IV. PHOTOGRAPHS, PICTURES, AND POSTCARDS
2 27 Thomas Garrigue Masaryk
  28-30 Kenneth Dexter Miller, family and friends
  31-32 Siberia, 1917 to 1919
  33-34 Miscellaneous
     
    V. ETHEL P. MILLER
  35-36 Correspondence with Mrs. O. K. Sherwin
     
    VI. DIARIES
3   Bohemia, 1912 to 1913
    Siberian journey, 1917 to 1919
     
    VII. SCRAPBOOKS
    New York City Mission Society
    Princeton degrees

The following oversized materials are stored separately in a portfolio:

Degrees and awards received by Miller
Personal letter from Miller to his mother, 1918
Pedigrees of the Dunham Family (a genealogy)
Several documents relating to Miller's WWI YMCA work
Oversize photographs
Materials stored separately from the collection:
Stamp collection
Letter received by Miller from T. G. Masaryk (original letter)
The following publications were removed and placed in the IHRC Print Collection:
Miller, Kenneth D.  The Czechoslovaks in America.  New York, George H. Duran Co., 1922.
______________.  Man and God in the City.  New York, Friendship Press, 1954.
______________.  Peasant Pioneers. (title page missing)
______________.  The People Are the City.  New York, MacMillan, 1962.
______________.  We Who Are America.  New York, Friendship Press,1943.


Return to IHRC Guide to Czech Collection.
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Last Updated:  May 16, 2002
Comments:  ihrc@umn.edu