Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Miller, Samuel, 1769-1850
Samuel Miller Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1754-1898 (mostly 1800-1849)
15 boxes and 5.9 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-15


Contains writings and correspondence of and relating to Samuel Miller, a nineteenth-century American Presbyterian clergyman and author.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The majority of this collection consists of correspondence between Samuel Miller and eminent clergymen in America, England, and Scotland. His exchanges with such men as Gardiner Spring, Benjamin Wisner, and Ashbel Green show not only immense piety but also a deep interest and concern for matters pertaining to Presbyterians, as well as Christendom, of his time. Moreover, as evident from his correspondence with contemporaries like George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and John Jay, Miller was also quite involved in the political atmosphere of America's emerging republic. Letters from Joseph Brant, a Native American Christian proselytizer, foreign missionaries, such as William Carey, and foreign correspondents, such as Christopher Daniel Ebeling of Hamburg and Samuel Miller of Scotland, are testaments to Miller's attentiveness to Christians and non-Christians in America and around the world.

The collection also contains legal documents, manuscripts, diary entries, and other letters pertaining to Miller's daily life as a son, brother, husband, father, professor, and friend. There is much correspondence pertaining to Princeton Theological Seminary and Miller's initial acceptance of a position, his struggles with finances at the Seminary, his eventual reputation as a professor and authority on theological issues, and his final attempts to retire from his duties towards the end of his life. In fact, because the contents of the collection span such a large range of dates, they provide a fairly full picture of Miller's life. In addtion, there are letters to Miller's father, Rev. John Miller, his son, Samuel Miller, Jr., and his wife, Mrs. Sarah Miller. Of these letters, the ones written during Miller's life provide an even broader image of his and his family's interests. Those written before his birth provide a valuable glimpse at the environment in which he grew up, and those written after his death speak to Miller's influential life and the thoughts, feelings, lives, plans, and futures of his family and friends without him.

Collection Creator Biography:

Miller, Samuel, 1769-1850

Samuel Miller was born in Dover, Delaware on October 31, 1769. His father was the Rev. John Miller (1722-1791). Miller attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1789. He earned his license to preach in 1791, and the University of Pennsylvania awarded him a Doctorate of Divinity degree (D.D.) in 1804. From 1813 to 1849, he served as Professor of Ecclesiastical History and Church Government at Princeton Theological Seminary, and was also integral in founding the institution.

Throughout his life, Miller was a vigorous participant in many of the controversies that took place within the Presbyterian Church, including that which resulted in the division of the Church into new and old schools. He was also considered an authority on many of the issues that faced Christians, especially Presbyterians, of his time.

Miller is, perhaps, best known for the theological, polemical, and biographical writings he published throughout his life, including A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century (1803, 1805), Memoir of the Reverend John Rogers (1813), Letters on Unitarianism (1821), An Essay on the Office of the Ruling Elder (1831), Letters from a Father to a Son in College (1843), and Thoughts on Public Prayer (1849). He was also responsible for the publication, in 1814, of the memoir and the writings of his elder brother, Edward Miller, a prominent physician and teacher in New York, who died in 1812.

Miller passed away in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 7, 1850, leaving behind his wife, Sarah Miller, and his children. One son, Samuel Miller, Jr., undertook to write the life of his father, and the two-volume work ( Life of Samuel Miller D.D.) was published in 1869.

Due to the number of letters addressed to, or dealing with, Samuel Miller, Jr., in the collection, the following brief biographical information about him is provided. Samuel Miller (the son), sometimes addressed as Jr., was born in Princeton, New Jersey, on January 23, 1816. He graduated from Princeton University in 1833 and went on to pass the bar in Philadelphia. However, he abandoned the law profession for the ministry and graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1844. Samuel Miller, Jr., then became pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, and was in charge of the church in Oceanic, New Jersey, from 1857 until 1873. In 1861, he was given his Doctorate of Divinity degree from Princeton. He passed away in Mt. Holly, New Jersey, on October 12, 1883.

Collection History


No further accruals are expected.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Traci Ballou in June 2005. Most of this involved transcribing information previously handwritten on the folders, reorganizing some sections, and labeling and rehousing the contents in acid-free folders and boxes. The finding aid was written by Traci Ballou in June 2005.

In 2022, restrictions on Thomas Jefferson letters where researchers were required to use surrogates were lifted as part of a restrictions review project.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Samuel Miller Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-15