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Since 1845: Library of Congress researcher explores BW’s storied Dayton C. Miller

University Archivist, Kieth A. Peppers, shares historical documents from Dayton C. Miller's years at BW with Library of Congress researcher Dr. Carol Lynne Ward-Bamford.

The magnitude of materials contained within the hallowed walls of the Library of Congress is difficult to fathom. Housing more than 170 million items, it is the largest library in the world.

With published books, handwritten manuscripts, film and audio recordings, what might Baldwin Wallace University have to offer a researcher from the de facto national library of the United States? The answer lay scattered among the shelves within the BW University Archives.

As last semester was ending, BW's Ritter Library hosted Dr. Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford, musical instrument curator from the Library of Congress, as she gathered information and insights for a biography on alumnus and renowned scientist Dayton C. Miller.

The backstory: science + music

Dayton C. Miller - From the Baldwin Wallace University ArchivesTop BW scholars know Dayton C. Miller from the BW honor society that bears his name. There is, however, a captivating backstory that dates back to the early days of BW.

Miller's father co-owned a small business in Berea in the 1800s, affording his son the opportunity to enter preparatory school in 1880. Young Dayton excelled at his academic studies, setting a precedent that would continue throughout his collegiate career.

Miller earned his bachelor's degree in philosophy in 1886 from what was then Baldwin University. He went on to complete a doctorate in astronomy from Princeton University just four years later.

Miller was an avid flutist, having performed numerous solos at various events across the BW campus. His love of music and his passion for science culminated in groundbreaking work with sound waves as well as the world's largest collection of flutes, now in the Library of Congress.

Biographer's parallel path

 1886 commencement program, with Dayton C. Miller both providing a lecture and a flute solo - From the BW University ArchivesDr. Ward-Bamford's life and pursuits paralleled Dr. Miller's in some regards. She too played and studied flute, though she took her academic studies of the instrument further, having earned her master's in flute performance. She also happened to have access to Miller's massive flute collection, and all associated documentation reside under her supervision at the Library of Congress.

It was this kindred closeness that lit a fire in her to share Miller's story with the world. That's what brought her to Berea, her need to know more about this uniquely fascinating man.

Dr. Ward-Bamford's research on Miller will culminate with a book documenting his life, the forces that shaped it and his contributions to science.

When the painstaking task of detailing Dayton C. Miller's story has finally been realized, you'll need look no further than BW's Ritter Library for a copy.

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