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Papers of James R. Miller

Identifier: UJRM

Scope and Contents

The Papers of James R. Miller consists of documents dated 1846 to 1993, with the bulk falling from 1877 to 1883. Note that the dates refer to the date of original creation; photocopies of some materials were made in the 1950s or later. The majority of materials relate to Miller's research for his unpublished manuscript, "Pioneer College President." The research materials include some of the earliest reports and financial documents of the State Board of Agriculture and copies of Elijah E. Edwards' diaries. The collection also consists of Miller's writings, both published and unpublished, about the history of Colorado State University and Fort Collins, Colorado. Most of these materials are in scrapbooks he created. Other materials include speeches, slides, and photographs Miller used for presentations.


  • Creation: 1846-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1877-1883


Restrictions on Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Not all of the material in the collection is in the public domain. Researchers are responsible for addressing copyright issues.


James Raymond Miller was secretary of the State Board of Agriculture (Colorado State University's governing body) from 1939 to 1957. Born on his parents' farm in Moorefield, Nebraska, on September 22, 1891, Miller graduated from the Nebraska State Normal School in 1917. For several months after graduation, he worked for the Kearney Times newspaper until he enlisted in the United States Army during World War I, where he served overseas and was wounded.

Miller began working for the Fort Collins Express-Courier (now known as the Fort Collins Coloradoan) as a reporter in 1924. He then wrote the syndicated column "The Old Mill" for a number of years and was managing editor when he resigned in 1935. Involved with many community organizations and events throughout his time in Fort Collins, he was elected to the Colorado State Senate in 1934, and represented Larimer County for one term. In 1935, he was an early editor of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station publications. He was a member of the First Christian Church in Fort Collins, the Fort Collins Elks Club, and was a founder of the Fort Collins Writer's Club. He also served several veterans organizations, the United Fund, and the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce.

Appointed to the State Board of Agriculture as secretary in 1939, Miller's duties included treasurer, purchasing agent, business manager, and assistant to the university president. After World War II, Miller was given the option of continuing as the Board's secretary or the president's assistant; he chose to remain secretary to the Board. When he retired in 1957, Miller had served the University during the tenure of four presidents: Charles A. Lory, Roy M. Green, Isaac E. Newsom, and William E. Morgan.

During his time on the Board, Miller also served on a variety of committees and supported many faculty and student activities at Colorado State University. These included the Faculty Club, Faculty Council, Independent Associated Students, Phi Kappa Phi, and Theta Chi fraternity. From 1953 to 1956, he was regional director of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Allied Institutions. In addition to these activities he also sometimes gave class lectures on legislation, journalism, and the University's institutional history. Miller retired from the Board in 1957; he was Colorado State University's commencement speaker in June 1958, when he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters.

Research into the life of Elijah E. Edwards, the first University President, continued Miller's affiliation with the University after his retirement. His research ultimately took him to Fort Meyers, Florida, where he discovered the unmarked grave of Edwards. In 1962, Miller completed his unpublished biography of President Edwards and an early institutional history, "Pioneer College President." He hoped it would be published for the University's upcoming centennial celebrations in 1970; however, it remains unpublished. Into the 1960s, Miller continued to author articles about Colorado State University in local publications. In 1964, Miller served as historian for the Fort Collins Area Centennial Commission.

Miller died in Ord, Nebraska, on October 23, 1978, at the age of 87. He married Mary Elizabeth "Bess" Mason in Ord, Nebraska, on October 21, 1920. They had two sons, Mason E. and James R. At the time of his death, he had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


3.25 linear feet (7 document cases)

Language of Materials



James R. Miller (1891-1978) was appointed Secretary to the State Board of Agriculture in 1939 and served Colorado State University in that capacity for eighteen years. During his more than twenty year affiliation with the school, Miller became an amateur historian of the University. Materials in the collection predate and postdate Miller due to his research activities and legacy inventories of the collection. This collection includes some of the oldest known documents of Colorado State University. The collection consists of reports, financial papers, correspondence, manuscripts, diary typescripts, notes, clippings, cassette tapes, photographs, negatives, slides, and legacy inventories.


Arrangement is by material type. The collection consists of eight series in seven document cases:

Series 1: Bound scrapbooks, 1864-1883, 1960-1962 and undated

Series 2: Correspondence, 1880-1909, 1965, 1974 and undated

Series 3: Manuscripts, 1950-1965 and undated

Series 4: Research materials, 1846-1915 and undated

Series 5: Lecture and speech notes, 1953-1961 and undated

Series 6: Audio/visual materials, 1948-1974 and undated

Series 7: Printed materials, 1937-1978 and undated

Series 8: Inventories, 1991 and 1993

Custodial History

James R. Miller gave his research materials, several copies of his unpublished manuscript, and the supporting original documents of the manuscript to President William E. Morgan in 1965. According to Miller's letter of donation, Morgan was collecting materials for a university archive at the time. It is believed that the circa 1880s documents of Colorado State University in this collection were originally located in the Board's offices. Miller occupied the secretary's office for almost twenty years and it appears that he compiled the records into the seven bound scrapbooks and used them for his research. Some of the materials in the collection were found in offices around campus and given to Miller.

The materials comprising the Papers of James R. Miller were located in multiple places, with various titles in the Colorado State University Archives and Special Collections Department. One volume of the "Pioneer College President," the bound scrapbooks, and one manuscript were cataloged and shelved in the department; the slides were located in a box waiting for the contents to be identified. More research materials, manuscripts, and the rest of the collection were part of a manuscript collection named for Miller. These materials were all combined and re-arranged using material type as the arrangement scheme. Three legacy inventories existed for various parts of the collection and they were used to shape processing decisions about the collection; two inventories are included in the collection and the third is located in the collection's administrative file.

The slides in the collection were found together in a box; a piece of paper located with them indicated some of the slides were created and used by Miller for his presentations. This paper is located in the collection's administrative file. Some slides appear to be from Miller's successors on the Board, but the decision was made to keep all slides together since their provenance beyond Miller is unknown.


The majority of the James R. Miller collection was acquired from President William E. Morgan in 1973. In 1977, Mrs. H. F. Bowen donated several articles from a Nebraska newspaper on Miller. In 1978, Dr. James E. Hansen II donated two oral history tapes and some correspondence with Miller, David Watrous donated a biographical sketch of Miller, and Miller's obituary was added to the collection.

Online Materials

Some materials have been scanned and are available through the Colorado State University Libraries website. In the electronic version of this document, direct links appear in context.

Related Collections

A bound copy of Miller's unpublished manuscript "Pioneer College President" is available in the Archives and Special Collections Department under call number: LD1153. M65 1962a. It is also available online. View

The Papers of James R. Miller is related to many collections in the Archives and Special Collections Department due to the natural relationship of University records, the time span of materials in the collection, and Miller's broad responsibilities during his tenure as secretary to the State Board of Agriculture. Some related materials in the Colorado State University Archive are the James E. Hansen II, Historic Photographs, State Board of Agriculture, Ruth J. Wattles, and the University Historic Photograph collections. The Colorado Agricultural Archive has the Records of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station.

The following repositories house additional materials related to Elijah E. Edwards: Elijah E. Edwards Civil War journals, 1864-1865, P470, Minnesota Historical Society.

"Elijah Evans Edwards Papers, Class of 1853," Nov. 8, 2005. Finding aid at the Archives of DePauw University and Indiana United Methodism, Greencastle, Ind.: DePauw University. View

Papers of Elijah E. Edwards, Colorado State University Archive, Colorado State University.


During the early 1990s, Miller's manuscripts and research materials were removed from three-ring binders and placed in folders. The documents in the bound scrapbooks were encapsulated in Mylar by the Colorado State University Libraries Preservation Laboratory team in 1999. More information about this project can be found in the collection's administrative file.

Processing was completed in July 2007. Materials were re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes. Metal paper clips were removed and replaced with plastic clips as needed. Audio/visual materials were re-housed in archival cases and sleeves. Loose newspaper clippings were interleaved with acid-free paper. Newspaper clippings glued to paper were not treated or interleaved in anticipation of photocopying them onto acid-free paper in the future. Entire sets of photocopies made in the 1990s existed for the documents in the seven bound scrapbooks (Series 1) and the Institutional and Community History manuscript (located in Series 2); since most of the photocopies were illegible and on acidic paper, they were discarded.

Colorado State University publications with little or no annotations were removed and added to the University publications located in the department. An announcement of the formal name change of Colorado Agricultural and Mechanical College to Colorado State University was removed and added to the University ephemera collection, and some materials were transferred to the collection's administrative file.

Inventory Note

Note: Title information supplied by the archivist is bracketed. Estimated paginationis preceded by an "e." Two identical copies of the same item are indicated by thephrase "2 copies" at the end of the entry, following the number of pages of eachcopy. Authored articles, books, and studies are listed in bibliographic form.

Guide to the Papers of James R. Miller
Edited Full Draft
Prepared by Alice Spaulding. Revised by Colleen M. McCorkell and Victoria Lopez-Terrill
Copyright 2007, 2020
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the CSU Libraries Archives & Special Collections Repository

Fort Collins Colorado 80523-1019 USA