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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the James Miller Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1849 - 1903
Creator: Miller, James (1824-1894)
Extent: 50.00 items.
Collection Number: MSC0408
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Civil War naval engineer. Documents concerning his military service on Navy gunboats on the Mississippi River during the Civil War. Also includes materials relating to his mechanical inventions in the late 1880s.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: The papers of James Miller were donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in 1981 by Mrs. Margaret M. Claussen.

Preferred Citation: James Miller Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

James Miller (1824-1894) was born in Scotland. He immigrated to the United States by way of Canada. In September of 1851, he became a U.S. citizen. He was living in Pennsylvania and working as a master mechanic at that time. He later moved to Illinois and farmed near Channahon in Wills County. Miller helped raise Company G (Mechanics Fusiliers), 56th Illinois Volunteers. Because of a technicality, it was mustered out in January 1862. Miller then went to Cairo, Illinois and enlisted as a fireman in the Western Gunboat Flotilla of the Navy. On March 1, 1862, he was promoted to Chief Engineer. Discharged from the military in September 1865, Miller returned to Illinois and went to work as an engineer at the Joliet State Prison. In charge of all machinery, he served as chief engineer for twenty-five years. While there, he was responsible for the invention of certain improvements in feed water heaters and purifiers for boilers. He later invented an important part for blast furnaces.

The papers of James Miller consist of fifty items covering the years 1849 to 1903 and concerning his Civil War service and later inventions. Most of the documents pertain to Miller's tour of duty in the U.S. Navy on the Mississippi River from 1862 to 1865. Included are such items as benefit claims and military service records. Some of these documents were signed by Gideon Welles, David D. Porter, and William D. Porter. Finally, there are materials relating to his mechanical inventions and a copy of his marriage certificate.

Browse by Series:
Series 1: GENERAL

  • Series 1: GENERAL
  • Box 1:
  • Documents pertaining to Miller's tour of duty in the U.S. Navy and later benefit claims - 1862-1879
    32 items, including documents signed by Gideon Welles, David D. Porter, and William D. Porter
  • Military service records and claims - 1849-1903
    11 items, with Xerox copies from the National Archives, including a copy of Miller's certificate of marriage
  • Miller Heater and Purifier Company - 1888
    8 items

This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

Corporate Names:
United States Navy

American Civil War, 1861-1865


Geographic Names:
United States -- Illinois
United States -- Mississippi River