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COLLECTION Identifier: A-36

Papers of Emma Guffey Miller, 1833-1975 (inclusive), 1884-1972 (bulk)


Correspondence of Emma Guffey Miller, Democratic Party leader.


  • Creation: 1833-1975
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1884-1972

Access Restrictions:


Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Emma Guffey Miller is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


3.63 linear feet ((3 cartons, 1 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 folio folder, 2 folio+ folders, 1 folio+ photograph folder, 2 oversize folders)

The papers provide some information about Emma Guffey Miller's college education, the Guffey family (especially her brother, Senator Joseph F. Guffey), her husband, Carroll Miller, her sons, and her travels. They document her many interests and volunteer activities: Democratic Party politics on the local, state, and national levels, Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the New Deal, the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee, Slippery Rock State College, the National Woman's Party and the Equal Rights Amendment, the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania, and the Daughters of the American Revolution. The correspondence (Series II) also provides documentation of anti-Catholicism (see #39, 88, 92-93), politics at Slippery Rock State College, and political favors and patronage during the 1950s and 60s. There is almost no information about her family or her personal life (childhood, adolescence, and her marriage after 1907).

Series I, Personal and biographical (#1-33), includes the following in the order listed: certificates, Bryn Mawr College material, short Miller biographies, lists from her social life in Washington, D.C., printed excerpts of her letters to her family, 1901-1907, Guffey and Miller family material, photographs, and clippings about Miller.

Series II, General correspondence, (#34-131), makes up the bulk of the collection, and is arranged chronologically. Letters found grouped by subject or by individual were kept together and placed chronologically on the basis of the earliest item in each group. Some enclosures referred to in the letters are missing. Many prominent politicians and a variety of organizations wrote to Miller; not all are included in the added entries; researchers should therefore refer to the index in the printed guide. Invitations and programs are in a separate chronological sequence at the end of the series (#117-131).

Series III, Speeches and writings (#132-157), is divided into two sections. Miller's speeches concern mainly prohibition reform, party politics, and the Equal Rights Amendment; they are arranged chronologically. The writings fall into six categories, each arranged chronologically: poetry, articles, Miller's Washington column, plays, miscellaneous, and writings by others.

Series IV, Organizations and boards (#158-181f+), is divided into two sections. The first contains reports, minutes, photographs, and proceedings, and is arranged chronologically by organization (i.e., according to the earliest item in each group). The second section consists of memorabilia, including membership cards, buttons, etc., and is arranged by category (and chronologically within each category) in the following order: handmade items, membership cards, Democratic National Conventions, Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women, Democratic Party candidates and committees, miscellaneous. A portion of the miscellaneous items are in box 5.

Most clippings were discarded after microfilming.


Emma (Guffey) Miller, Democratic Party leader, was born Mary Emma Guffey at Guffey Station, Pennsylvania, on July 6, 1874, the daughter of Barbaretta (Hough) and John Guffey. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College with an A.B. in history and political science in 1899. While traveling in Japan (1902) she met and married Carroll Miller (1875-1949). Miller's letters to her family (see #6-8) recount their courtship and marriage and the birth of their first child, William Gardner Miller, III. Twin sons, John Guffey and Carroll Jr., were born in 1908, son Joseph F. in 1912.

Active politically since her college days, Miller campaigned for Democratic candidates in 1920; in 1924 she was elected a delegate to the national convention, where, in a seconding speech for Alfred E. Smith (see #136), she appealed for religious tolerance and denounced the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, Miller received one-half vote for the presidential nomination, the first woman ever to do so. She helped organize the Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women, and spoke out for prohibition reform; her advocacy of disarmament forced her resignation from the Daughters of the American Revolution. In 1932 she was elected Democratic National Committeewoman from Pennsylvania, a post she held until her death. During the 1930s and 40s she also served as official hostess for her brother, Joseph F. Guffey, United States Senator from Pennsylvania (1935-1947). Miller remained in the background of political life, never running for nor accepting public office herself, though she felt strongly about women's right to do both. She was an active member of the National Woman's Party (Chairman, 1960-1965, and Life President, 1965-1970), and an outspoken advocate of the Equal Rights Amendment.

Miller died of a heart attack on February 23, 1970, and is buried with her husband in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia.

More biographical information is available in this collection (see Series I). See also Notable American Women: The Modern Period (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980), which includes a list of additional sources. Miller also gave papers to the Pennsylvania Room of the Carnegie Library (Pittsburgh) and the Slippery Rock State College Archives.


The collection is arranged in four series:

  1. I.Personal and biographical, #1-33.
  2. II.General correspondence, #34-131.
  3. III.Speeches and writings, #132-157.
  4. IV.Organizations and boards, #158-181f+.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 57-8, 57-32, 58-3, 58-63, 51, 114, 289, 379, 667, 834, 892, 1239, 1501, 70-83, 71-100, 72-74, 77-M113, 77-M188, 81-M248, 91-M169

The Emma Guffey Miller papers were given to the Schlesinger Library between November 1956 and November 1968 by Emma Guffey Miller. Additional materials were given in June 1970, August 1971, November 1977, and October 1981 by William Miller; in July 1972 by Edgar Grim Miller; in August 1977 by Michael Ochs; and in October 1991 by Cathy (Miller) Crocker and Alexander Miller.


  1. Following filming, #20, 22-27, 32-33, 53 were discarded.
  2. A small number of clippings from #22-27 were moved to #21o.
  3. Microfilm contains material from accession number 92-M205 (formerly D-29), which is not included in this inventory.


  1. Carton 1: #1-26
  2. Carton 2: #68-114
  3. Carton 3: #115-154
  4. Box 4: #155-169
  5. Box 5: #170m-180m

Processing Information

Reprocessed: June 1979

By: Madeleine Bagwell Perez

Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers of Emma Guffey Miller, 1833-1975 (inclusive), 1884-1972 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
The papers were reprocessed under a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (RC-24669-76-987) in 1979, and were again reprocessed in 1991 by Bert Hartry, and microfilmed as part of a Schlesinger Library/University Publications of America project.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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