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Dorothy C. Miller papers, 1853-2013, bulk 1920-1996

Miller, Dorothy Canning, 1904-2003


Collection Information

Size: 34.6 Linear feet

Summary: The papers of contemporary and folk art curator, historian, and consultant Dorothy C. Miller measure 34.6 linear feet and date from 1853-2013, with the bulk of the material dating from 1920 to 1996. The papers primarily concern Miller's private art consulting work outside of her curatorial work at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Found are scattered biographical materials, extensive correspondence and subject files, and project files for her art consulting work for the Rockefeller family, Rockefeller University, Chase Manhattan Bank, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the World Trade Center, and other miscellaneous corporate and private clients. Miller's work as a trustee and committee member of various public and private boards and commissions is also represented here. Additionally, the papers contain Miller's research files on Edward Hicks and folk art, and a small number of files of her husband Holger Cahill about his work as Director of the Federal Art Project. There is a scattered documentation of Miller's early curatorial work with Holger Cahill on the First Municipal Art Exhibition (1934) held at the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center. Also found is Dorothy Miller's collection of artists' Christmas cards and photographs of Miller and others. An addition to the papers includes biographical material; family papers; correspondence; professional files; art collection and client files; printed material; and photographic material. While a small number professional files are included, the majority of the addition relates to her personal life, including correspondence with her husband Holger Cahill, and files pertaining to her personal art collection.

Biographical/Historical Note

Dorothy Canning Miller (1904-2003) worked in New York City as a highly influential curator of contemporary and folk art at the Museum of Modern Art and as the first curator of the museum. Later, she was the primary art consultant for Nelson A. Rockefeller, the Rockefeller family, Rockefeller University, Chase Manhattan Bank, and the Port Authority of and New Jersey. Dorothy Miller was also married to Holger Cahill, director of the WPA Federal Art Project.


The collection was donated by Dorothy C. Miller via Wendy Jeffers between 1986 and 1997, and Reid White, Executor of Miller's estate, in 2004. Two subsequent additions were donated by Wendy Jeffers in 2014 and 2015.

Related Materials

Language Note

Collection is in English.


Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art