The present organization of the John William Miller Papers was established by George P. Brockway (Williams College 1936), a student of Miller?s who became his literary executor. It was Brockway who, in his capacity as C. E. O. at W. W. Norton & Company, assisted in the publication of Miller?s first book, The Paradox of Cause, in 1978. Upon Miller?s death, it fell to Brockway to organize a diverse and unorganized literary estate, in readying materials for editorial consideration for the four posthumous volumes of Miller?s writings that W. W. Norton published from 1980 through 1983. It is this literary estate that forms the bulk of the collection, housed in boxes 1 through 42d. Since the donation of Miller?s literary estate, other material has been added to the collection. These items are gathered in boxes 43 through 51.

The earliest document in the Miller Papers dates from 1916, Miller?s senior year at Harvard University, and the latest item was penned in the last month of his life, December 1978. The Miller Papers thus represent a compendium of material pertaining to and expressing Miller?s thought from his time as an undergraduate, through his mature period as a teacher at Williams College, and into his last years as he reflected upon his decades of philosophical work.

Included in the collection are published books, essays, and editorials. Another part of the collection is made up of editorial ?dead matter? relating to each of Miller?s five published books. The majority of the Miller Papers, however, is composed of unpublished material in the form of essay drafts, letter drafts, and notes that constituted much of the literary estate that Miller left in Brockway?s hands. (Also included in the collection are documents written by other persons?e.g., student essays?that were in Miller's possession at the time of his death.) The balance of the Miller Papers is composed of mailed correspondence donated to the Archives by the recipients of Miller?s letters.

Those materials, often correspondence, that were given to the Archives by friends, family, colleagues, and former students tend to be clearly dated or lend themselves to being dated with reasonable accuracy. The materials that were part of Miller?s literary estate proper?i.e., the items he left in his office and home at the time of his death?are often much more difficult to date. In organizing the collection, Brockway was regularly forced to make rough estimations of dates by assessing the disposition of documents in Miller?s office and comparing Miller?s handwriting at different periods. In addition, lacking dates or other evidence of the time or circumstance of writing, Brockway often grouped together documents that Miller had placed in a cluster. As a result, the collection is weak in terms of chronological organization. Rather, the order of the documents and their relationship to one another in the folders reflect their disposition in Miller?s office and, in turn, the natural organization that fell to them within the context of Miller?s working and writing life.

As an archival collection, the bulk of the Miller Papers are organized into two major series. Series 1 is made up of papers from before 1970 and Series 2 comprises papers from 1970 and after. Within each of these major divisions, the materials are separated by document type. While the materials grouped by type are dated as accurately as possible, they are not currently in chronological order. Seven more series follow: Correspondence with George P. Brockway; Miscellaneous Papers; Teaching Notes; Dead Matter; Student Papers and Other Works; Edward A. Hoyt?s Addition; Recent Additions. Each series contains a variety of materials on various subjects and with various dates.

Each series is contained in boxes which themselves contain folders. As a result, the basic form of reference to items in the Miller Papers is their location in this box and folder system. Scholars have taken to citing from the Miller Papers in the form of the box number separated from the folder number by a colon ? e.g., box 4, folder 7 is rendered as MP 4:7. Here, under each box heading folders will be designated by the box number separated from the folder number by a period ? e.g., 4.7.

Because the Miller Papers were first organized with an eye toward facilitating Brockway?s work as an editor, they bear a system of editorial marks?e.g., F. 1960s a (2)?that was used to coordinate the work at W. W. Norton. The principles of this system are based on categories of topic (e.g., ?F? indicates history as the subject matter), document type (e.g., ?2? indicates that the document is an essay draft), and date. The use of lowercase letters (e.g., ?a?) distinguishes items that are of the same subject, document type, and date. This system is not, however, crucial to the researcher except insofar as it helps coordinate items in the collection with the materials published in the four posthumous volumes of Miller?s writings. In order to bypass this step of comparing the editorial marks on manuscripts with those on the editorial typescripts contained in boxes 36-41, when an editorial mark was applied to a folder it is indicated in the list of contents below. When a portion of the contents of a folder, or the whole folder, has been published, the location in the relevant book or journal is noted.

Each entry in the contents list, then, contains the following information: title, format, date, publication information (when applicable), contents, subject matter description, and editorial mark (when applicable). When an item in a folder lacks a title, the subject description will appear first followed by the other descriptors. The editorial mark, with its own determination of subject matter, is Brockway?s designation while the main subject description has been made in light of a close inspection of the contents of each folder and often revises Brockway?s original determination.

A final remark can be made regarding publication information. In every case where this is possible, the specific item (e.g., essay draft, letter) used in the printed work is indicated. That a specific item was the source for any portion of a printed work does not mean, however, that the item was printed in its entirety. In many cases, only a few paragraphs or even a couple of sentences were gleaned from the archival source. While the specific pagination from the archival materials cannot be provided, each reference to published materials does offer a precise page reference for where the archival source appears in the published work.

John William Miller Papers, 1916-1978