Miller, Kerby A. 1944–
Miller, Kerby A. 1944–
PERSONAL: Born December 30, 1944, in Phoenix, AZ; son of George W., Jr. (a high school principal) and Muriel K. (a high school teacher) Miller; married Patricia Mulholland, 1979; children: Owen Patrick, Michael Eamonn, Cara Estella Irene. Education: Pomona College, B.A., 1966; University of California, Berkeley, M.A., 1967, Ph.D., 1976.
ADDRESSES: Home—Columbia, MO. Office—Department of History, University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, MO 65211; fax: 573-884-5151. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: University of California, Berkeley, lecturer in history, 1976–77; Queen's University of Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland, senior fellow affiliated with Institute of Irish Studies, 1977–78; University of Missouri—Columbia, Columbia, assistant professor, 1978–83, associate professor of history, 1983–88, professor of history, 1988–, Middlebush Professor of History, 2000–03. Huntington Library, visiting research fellow, 1984; University of Notre Dame, Hibernian fellow at Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, 1991; New York University, visiting professor at Glucksman Ireland House, 2002; lecturer at many other institutions in the United States and abroad, including University of Auckland, University of Virginia, University of Toronto, Emory University, University of Kansas, and National University of Ireland, University College, Cork; consultant for television documentaries on the Irish immigrant experience, including From the Shamrock Shore; The Irish Empire, for British Broadcasting Corp. and other networks; and The Irish in America, for Arts and Entertainment network.
MEMBER: American Historical Association, Organization of American Historians (distinguished lecturer, 2002–05), Immigration History Society, Irish Historical Society, American Conference for Irish Studies, Irish Economic and Social History Society, Irish-American Cultural Institute, New York Irish History Roundtable.
AWARDS, HONORS: Missouri Conference on History, distinguished scholarly article award, 1983, distinguished scholarly book award, 1987; grants from National Endowment for the Humanities, 1984, 2006–08, American Philosophical Society, 1984, 1987, and American Council of Learned Societies, 1984, 1987; Merle Curti Prize in U.S. Social History, Organization of American Historians, and Theodore Saloutos Prize in Immigration History, Immigration History Society, both 1985, for Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America; nomination for Pulitzer Prize in history, 1986, for Emigrants and Exiles; grants from Irish American Cultural Institute, St. Paul, MN, 1990, 2002; William T. Kemper fellowship for teaching excellence, 1997; James S. Donnelly Prize, best book in Irish and Irish-American history and social sciences, American Conference for Irish Studies, 2004, for Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675–1815; grant from Irish Research Council for the Historical and Social Sciences, Dublin, 2005–; Guggenheim grant, 2006–07.
(With Paul Wagner) Out of Ireland: The Story of Irish Emigration to America (companion volume for television documentary Out of Ireland, broadcast by Public Broadcasting Service), Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor, with James S. Donnelly, Jr.) Irish Popular Culture, 1650–1850, Irish Academic Press (Dublin, Ireland), 1997.
(With wife, Patricia Miller) Journey of Hope: The Story of Irish Immigration to America: An Interactive History, Chronicle Books (San Francisco, CA), 2001.
(Principal author) Irish Immigrants in the Land of Canaan: Letters and Memoirs from Colonial and Revolutionary America, 1675–1815, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor of essays to anthologies, including Distant Magnets: Expectations and Realities in the Immigrant Experience, 1840–1930, Holmes & Meier, 1993; Northern Ireland and the Politics of Reconciliation, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1993; Migrations: The Irish at Home and Abroad, Wolfhound Press, 1990; Fleeing the Famine: North America and Irish Refugees, 1945–1951, Praeger Publishers (Westport, CT), 2003; and Making the Irish American: History and Heritage of the Irish in the United States, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including Irish Historical Studies, Journal of American Ethnic History, Journal of Urban History, Huntington Library Quarterly, Irish Economic and Social History, and Studies: An Irish Quarterly Journal.
ADAPTATIONS: The Millers' book Journey of Hope was adapted for the stage and performed in Newport, RI, and elsewhere on the East Coast, beginning in 1995.
SIDELIGHTS: Kerby A. Miller studied thousands of letters and memoirs in researching Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America, his comprehensive history of Irish emigration. Focusing on the nineteenth century, Miller relates how the increasing modernization of a society based primarily on subsistence farming and the Great Famine of the late 1840s forced masses of the rural poor—2.1-million in the single decade beginning in 1845—to leave Ireland, primarily for the United States. Miller writes that the prevailing attitude shaping the Irish immigrant experience was not one of optimistic opportunity-seeking but of involuntary exile and guilty abandonment. The author attributes these pervasive feelings of enforced banishment to the denial of traditional Gaelic values such as fealty to the motherland, discouragement of individual action in favor of community effort, and a fatalistic worldview. Critics found Miller's approach particularly noteworthy in that he considers the impact of emigra-tion on Ireland, not just on Irish-Americans. Citing the author's original research and circumspect treatment of published materials, William V. Shannon in the New York Times Book Review called Miller's extensive treatise "the most careful and comprehensive analysis of the emigration from Ireland that has yet appeared" and observed that the author "has produced a major work of scholarship and analysis, rich in information, trenchant in argument and broad in its grasp." Times Literary Supplement reviewer Oliver MacDonagh highlighted Miller's imagination and sensitivity, commenting: "Most winning of all, he writes with feeling, even passion, about the scars and sufferings of translation."
Miller once told CA: "I believe that the Irish experience of massive emigration and their responses to that phenomenon have universal significance and contemporary relevance. The dynamics of modern capitalism, largely unregulated or at least unresponsive to popular political pressures and social needs, are causing such enormous and rapid economic, social, and cultural transformations—changes which are disadvantageous or at least profoundly unsettling to a majority of people everywhere—that feelings of alienation or 'exile' are natural responses. In an era whose spokesmen have proudly proclaimed an 'end of ideology,' such feelings usually lead merely to political apathy or mindless consumerism (legal or illegal). However, the Irish were able to politicize and focus their discontents, transforming their feelings of exile and alienation into Irish and Irish-American nationalist movements and, to a lesser and more transitory degree, into a radical critique of American capitalism that informed late nineteenth-century American labor struggles as well as Irish and Irish-American nationalism. Whether either the Irish or the Irish Americans are still capable of such concentrated outrage over today's inequities is an open question, but one of my goals in writing Emigrants and Exiles and subsequent books has been to reanimate the awareness on which political action might be based by demythologizing the Irish emigration and immigration experiences: to show the sorrow as well as the successes, and to demonstrate the causes and results of both."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
New York Times Book Review, December 1, 1985, William V. Shannon, review of Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America.
Times Literary Supplement, July 18, 1986, Oliver MacDonagh, review of Emigrants and Exiles.
University of Missouri—Columbia Department of History Web site: Kerby A. Miller Home Page, http://history.missouri.edu/people/miller.html (December 28, 2006).