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Miller, Page Putnam (1940–) - Public History

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Page Putnam Miller was born on December 12, 1940, in Columbia, South Carolina, of Scots ancestry. Her father was a postal worker, her mother a full-time homemaker who had worked on the Works Progress Administration’s State Guide for South Carolina before getting married. Page enjoyed music, arts, and sports in school and earned an award as a top high school debater. She was also active in the Presbyterian Church as a youth and took a great interest in current events. She was motivated to become a historian from an interest in history but also because she felt that some other areas of interest, such as law, were closed to her as a southern woman in the 1960s.

Miller attended Mary Baldwin College, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1963. She then attended Yale Divinity School, earning thirty credits toward a master’s degree in religion. She left Yale and later attended the University of Maryland, earning a master’s degree in history in 1974 and a Ph.D. in American history in 1979. After completing her doctorate, Miller worked for a year as instructor at University College, University of Maryland. She then took a job as director of the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History, a post she has held since 1980. In her capacity as director, Miller has been involved in many national projects. She coordinated the Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service’s collaborative project to revise the National Park Service’s Thematic Framework. She also served as project director for the Women’s History Landmark Project, a cooperative project of the National Park Service, the Organization of American Historians, and the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History.

The author or editor of five books, Miller is perhaps best known for her most recent work, Reclaiming the Past: Landmarks of Women’s History , which brings together public and academic historians to address how the history of women has, or has not, been addressed and interpreted at historic sites. The essays in this collection address issues of economics and preservation, interpretation when no structure remains to commemorate a woman’s life, and interpreting women’s lives at sites not normally viewed as women’s history landmarks. As Miller claims, the ultimate goal of the book is “to stimulate increased efforts to connect women’s past to tangible resources.” Miller has also written nearly twenty articles on topics ranging from the Freedom of Information Act to the preservation of electronic historical records. In addition, she writes a monthly column for the American Historical Association’s AHA Perspectives and a bimonthly column, “Washington Beat,” for Archival Outlook , a publication of the Society of American Archivists.

Page Putnam Miller has been the recipient of several citations and distinguished service awards. She received a Directors Award for Distinguished Service from the Federation of Genealogical Societies, and Outstanding and Dedicated Service Award from the Society for History in the Federal Government, and an Exemplary Service Citation from the Society of American Archivists. She also received a Mellon Research Fellowship for the study of modern archives, and was a project director for an Exxon Education Grant on Strengthening the Teaching of History in Secondary Schools.

Since 1982 Page Putnam Miller has provided testimony to United States House and Senate committees or subcommittees on thirty-five separate occasions. These include the Senate Subcommittee on Treasury, Postal Service, and General Government; the House Subcommittee on National Parks and Public Lands; the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution; and the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.

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