Grace Lewis Miller Papers

Grace Lewis Miller Papers

- Finding aid by L. Ruth Frick

May 1999


Grace Darling Lewis was born in St. Louis, Missouri on March 22, 1895. She graduated from McKinley High School and Harris Teacher's College. She received her A.B. degree from Washington University and married Herman Benjamin Miller, M.D. in 1918. After the death of Dr. Miller in 1935, she did further study at Washington University in St. Louis and earned an M.A. in History from the University of Texas. She accumulated enough credit hours for a Ph.D. in History, but did not receive that degree.

Grace Lewis Miller conceived the idea of a screenplay about Meriwether Lewis for a film documentary in 1938 and sent a manuscript to the Screen Writers Guild. She became so engrossed in the life and times of Meriwether Lewis and the lack of recognition by historians for his accomplishments, except for the Lewis and Clark Expedition, that she spent the rest of her life studying and writing about the subject. Miller wrote that she claimed no relationship with Meriwether Lewis. She also did graduate work in history to try to insure that her discoveries and writings would be accepted by the academic community.

Miller spent the years between 1938 and the early 1970s reading, writing, and studying at numerous libraries, historical societies, and archives. She collected copies of correspondence and documents from many repositories for her study of Meriwether Lewis, his family and associates, and the political, social, and economic conditions that affected his life between 1774 and 1809.

The collection is divided into two main series: "Papers Relevant to Meriwether Lewis" and "Personal Papers." The first series is divided into 21 sub-series and is a major source of information about Meriwether Lewis. The second series is divided into eight sub-series and gives an insight into Miller's personal life.

The "Lewis Papers" sub-series of the "Papers Relevant to Meriwether Lewis" is a collection of reproductions of correspondence and copies of documents written and received by Meriwether Lewis. There are typed transcripts and editorial notes to be used with the reproductions of correspondence and documents gathered for the unpublished manuscript The Papers of Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809.

The "Lewis Biography" sub-series contains notes and copies of correspondence and documents gathered for the unfinished manuscript The Biography of Meriwether Lewis. The Biography was to be divided into three main time periods: "Youth or Albemarle," "Army," and "Governorship" or "Louisiana Territory," which included events after his death. The titles of these divisions are inconsistent throughout Miller's notes and rough drafts and have been left as she had them.

The Lewis and Clark Myth sub-series contains information gathered for an unfinished manuscript meant to dispel rumors and legends about the Lewis and Clark Expedition by documenting the facts of the planning and execution of the military assignment under the leadership of Capt. Meriwether Lewis.

The reasons for Miller not publishing her three volumes of papers and other manuscripts may have been financial, as indicated by the many requests for grants. Another reason may have been Miller's lack of confidence to publish material that was contrary to the mainstream of writings by male historians. Consequently, she continued to revise her work, seeking perfection so that her books would be accepted by all historians. In a letter to Dr. Roy M. Chatters dated December 29, 1970, Miller wrote, "I have not yet accomplished all of what I had expectations of doing."

The amount of information that Grace Lewis Miller gathered at her own expense and the work of indexing, organizing, and writing about her discoveries could only have been accomplished with great dedication and an ardent desire to place Meriwether Lewis in his legitimate place in history.

In addition to these three unpublished manuscripts, Miller also wrote the following: "More About Meriwether Lewis" (published in the William and Mary Quarterly, July 1958), "Financial Records Expedition to the Pacific Ocean" (published in the Bulletin of the Missouri Historical Society, July 1954), "An Englishman Looks at America" (a paper for a Washington University class, 1951), an untitled letter on the death of Meriwether Lewis (submitted to the William and Mary Quarterly but never published), "The First Home of Governor Lewis in Louisiana Territory - the House in which General Clark Resides" (published in the Bulletin Of The Missouri Historical Society, July 1958), "The Landed Estate of Meriwether Lewis in Louisiana Territory" (submitted to the Albemarle Historical Society but never published), "Micheau - Cabinet Maker" (never published), "Lewis' Map of 1806" (published in Military Affairs, spring 1941), "Ratification in the Virginia Convention 1788" (a paper for the University of Texas, summer 1944), and "Mr. Jefferson's July Papers" or "Who was 'A.B.'?" (never published).

Series 2 indicates that Miller had an interesting life in addition to her Meriwether Lewis project. Miller's personal papers reveal her varied interest in nature, art, books, study and society by her writing, correspondence with friends, and newspaper and magazine articles saved for reference. Her papers contain correspondence and drawings by architect Richard Neutra, who designed Miller's Palm Springs house.

The gift of her collection of papers and books by her sons, Jefferson and Philip Miller, will be a treasure for historians to explore in the study of Lewis and Clark, the fur trade, the Louisiana Territory, St. Louis history, Virginia history, and the period of westward expansion and Jeffersonian ideals.

Information obtained from this collection must be properly cited, whether used in publication or in other formats. A citation suggested for this collection is:

National Park Service

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Archives

Grace Lewis Miller Papers

Box__, Folder__

Researchers are advised that before records, photographs, and any other unpublished materials from this collection can be published or exhibited, permission from the National Park Service must be obtained in writing.


Series 1. Papers Relevant to Meriwether Lewis

The life of Meriwether Lewis is the main focus of Series 1, which contains notes by Grace Lewis Miller as well as manuscripts in various stages of completion. All of the folder headings in this collection are Miller's originals. Because Miller revised her work several times, folder headings and titles of manuscripts are not always consistent. This series also contains notes on subjects, arranged in alphabetical and chronological order, to support her manuscripts; reproductions of correspondence and documents, with transcripts of most of the letters that were written by or sent to Lewis; letters and copies of letters sent to or written by Miller concerning her Meriwether Lewis project; and reproductions of newspaper articles and copies of written stories about Lewis, his family and associates, and the influences that made him a great leader of the period in which he lived (1774-1809).

Sub-Series 1. Lewis Papers

This sub-series contains reproductions of correspondence and documents written and received by Lewis arranged in chronological order; transcripts of most of the correspondence and documents with editorial notes and comments by Miller; and notes on the people, places, and subjects that concerned and influenced Lewis during the different periods of his life. Part I-"Youth or Albemarle"; Part II-"The Army"; and Part III-"Governor and After Death" were to be published in The Papers of Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809.

Sub-Series 2. The Lewis and Clark Myth

Grace Lewis Miller contended that a myth was created by Nicholas Biddle, editor of the Lewis and Clark Journals, about Lewis and Clark and was perpetuated by the repetition of half-truths and un-truths about the men and their leaders on the Voyage of Discovery. Miller points out the differences between the original journals and the edited versions of some authors, particularly Nicholas Biddle and Reuben G. Thwaites, creating a myth about Lewis and Clark and the Expedition. This sub-series contains Miller's detailed study of the original journals for the unfinished manuscript The Lewis and Clark Myth.

Sub-Series 3. General Research Cards

This sub-series contains 5x8 inch and 3x5 inch subject cards arranged in alphabetical and chronological order. "Subjects Developed, A-Z" were to be used with the 3x5 cards. The black notebook's alphabetized files were to be used with The Lewis and Clark Myth. All information was to be used in The Papers of Meriwether Lewis 1774-1809, The Life of Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809, and The Lewis and Clark Myth.

Sub-Series 4. Lewis Biography

The Life of Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809 is divided into three major time periods: "Youth," "Army," and "Louisiana Territory." "Youth" is subdivided into Lewis' ancestry and background in Albemarle County, Virginia. "Army" includes his enlistment, his service with Gen. Anthony Wayne, recruiting for the army, his time as Secretary to President Thomas Jefferson, and his leadership of the Voyage of Discovery. "Louisiana Territory" includes time spent in the army and preparations made after being appointed Governor, accomplishments of Lewis as Governor of the Louisiana Territory, conflicts and politics in the Louisiana Territory, disbursement of Lewis' property after his death, and individuals who obtained political power and financial gain from his death.

Sub-Series 5. Lewis' Landed Estates

This sub-series contains documents to validate Grace Lewis Miller's manuscript, "The Landed Estate of Meriwether Lewis in Louisiana Territory" and to prove that Governor Lewis possessed considerable assets at the time of his death in October 1809. Lewis wrote to William Preston in a letter dated July 25, 1808, that he had purchased 7,440 arpents of land for $5,530. This did not include the land that Lewis owned in Kentucky and Virginia, and possibly land in Ohio and Georgia. The article "The First Home of Governor Lewis in the Louisiana Territory:. . . the house in which General Clark resides" was rejected by the State Historical Society of Missouri. The article "The Landed Estate of Meriwether Lewis in Louisiana Territory" was rejected by the Albemarle Historical Society because the topic was not of interest in Virginia. Variations of both articles were to be used in Part III-Governor and After Death of The Life of Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809.

Sub-Series 6. Thesis

This sub-series contains research notes and documents for Grace Lewis Miller's thesis at the University of Texas, "His Excellency Meriwether Lewis and the First Publications West of the Mississippi River," and a copy of the thesis. The thesis was to be included in Part III-"Governor or After Death" of The Life of Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809. See also Box 51, Folder 15.

Sub-Series 7. Frances Barbour Manuscripts

This sub-series contains a manuscript written by Grace Lewis Miller for the William and Mary Quarterly, "The First Home of Governor Lewis in the Louisiana Territory:. . . the house in which General Clark resides," and the notes, documents, and correspondence necessary for the preparation of the manuscript; Miller's letter in response to the William and Mary Quarterly article, "The Tragic Death of Meriwether Lewis," written by Dawson Phelps; and Grace Lewis Miller's article "More About Meriwether Lewis." Miller sent copies of these manuscripts to her friend Frances Barbour for her comments and input.

Sub-Series 8. Articles

This sub-series contains documents, notes, and correspondence for various articles written by Grace Lewis Miller.

Sub-Series 9. Screenplay

This sub-series contains a screenplay about Meriwether Lewis written for the Screen Writers Guild by Grace Lewis Miller in 1939. She was living in California and was interested in the theater, having been an amateur actress in St. Louis. She thought that the play about Lewis could be used in a documentary film. After the screenplay, her interest in Lewis continued to develop into a lifetime of research and writing.

Sub-Series 10. General Research

This sub-series contains general research done by Grace Lewis Miller in preparation for her Meriwether Lewis project. General Research is divided into several categories of subject matter appropriate for her research.

Sub-Series 11. American Philosophical Society

This sub-series contains reproductions of minutes of meetings in May and June, 1807; nine pages from the Lewis and Clark journal; and copies of the Bulletins of the Society.

Sub-Series 12. Thomas Jefferson

This sub-series contains correspondence, documents, and notes on Thomas Jefferson and his policies and ideals that influenced Lewis; Grace Lewis Miller's manuscript "Who Was 'A.B.'?"; and correspondence with Julian Boyd about Miller's contribution to The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and reproductions of Thomas Jefferson's correspondence.

Sub-Series 13. Burr-Wilkinson

This sub-series contains notes, documents, and correspondence that may add to the understanding of Aaron Burr and James Wilkinson and their policies and politics, which affected Meriwether Lewis.

Sub-Series 14. Clark

This sub-series contains documents, correspondence, and notes on the Clark family, especially William Clark. Grace Lewis Miller reveals many differences between the behavior and personalities of Lewis and Clark.

Sub-Series 15. St. Louis

This sub-series contains notes, documents, and articles about St. Louis during Governor Lewis' time and the years following his administration.

Sub-Series 16. Virginia

This sub-series contains maps, documents, and articles about Virginia to be used in The Life of Meriwether Lewis, 1774-1809.

Sub-Series 17. Locations

This sub-series contains information on locations that Meriwether Lewis visited or that may have affected his life in some way.

Sub-Series 18. People

This sub-series contains documents, correspondence, and notes on people that had an influence on Lewis' life, or lived during the same period he did.

Sub-Series 19. Missouri Gazette

This sub-series contains mostly newspaper articles that were written in the Missouri Gazette, 1808-1809, and documents which support the articles.

Sub-Series 20. Grant Requests

This sub-series concerns requests made by Grace Lewis Miller for financial aid to help her complete her Meriwether Lewis project. All of the research that Miller did for over thirty years was without financial aid and was done at her own expense.

Sub-Series 21. Correspondence

This sub-series contains correspondence with institutions or other authors concerning Grace Lewis Miller's Meriwether Lewis Project.

Series 2. Personal Papers

Series 2 contains a collection of correspondence, documents, and newspaper and magazine clippings that were of interest to Grace Lewis Miller, but are not part of the Meriwether Lewis project. Miller's interests in nature, art, books, study, and society were reflected in her activities in St. Louis, Palm Springs, and Texas. This series gives some insight into the person that spent many years studying the life and times of Meriwether Lewis.

Sub-Series 1. Classes Taken

This sub-series contains notes and papers written for classes taken at the University of Texas and at Washington University. Some of the material relates to Series 1.

Sub-Series 2. Vandeventer Place

This sub-series contains information about No. 55 Vandeventer Place, the home of Dr. and Mrs. Miller from 1924-35. After Dr. Miller's death in 1935, Grace continued to live there, sometimes renting out the house, splitting her time between St. Louis, Palm Springs, and Texas, until she moved to the Plaza Square Apartments in St. Louis in 1960. This series contains legal papers, taxes and assessments, maintenance and repairs, newspaper clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous notes.

Sub-Series 3. Palm Springs

This sub-series contains notes, correspondence, surveys, designs, and newspaper clippings relating to Grace Lewis Miller's home in Palm Springs, California, designed by architect Richard Neutra. See also Box 54, Folder 26.

Sub-Series 4. Correspondence

This sub-series contains Grace Lewis Miller's personal correspondence with friends and relatives. Correspondence has been kept in the arrangement in which it was received from Miller's estate.

Sub-Series 5. China and Antiques

This sub-series contains photos, correspondence, and information about Lord Coventry "Blind Earl" Chamberlain's Worchester China; the Limoges Steamboat China of Capt. C.D. Blossom; Chouteau family furniture; and cigar band history.

Sub-Series 6. People

This sub-series contains newspaper and magazine articles about people, places, and subjects that

interested Grace Lewis Miller.

Sub-Series 7. Clippings

This sub-series contains newspaper and magazine articles and brochures about various subjects of interest to Grace Lewis Miller.

Sub-Series 8. Miscellaneous

This sub-series contains personal papers of Grace Lewis Miller which did not fit into any of the other series.

If you have any questions regarding archives holdings, contact Archivist Jennifer Clark at the JNEM Archives at (voice) 314-655-1600. Appointments are encouraged, if possible.

Last updated: October 1, 2020

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