By Rebekah L. Myers and Jennifer Whitlock
Primary Creator: Miller, J. Irwin (Joseph Irwin) (1909-2004)
Other Creators: Miller, Xenia S. (Xenia Simons) (1918-2008)
Extent: 4.6 Linear Feet. More info below.
Date Acquired: 09/03/2010
Forms of Material: brochures, clippings (information artifacts), correspondence, exhibition catalogs, financial records, invoices, photographic prints, photographs, receipts (financial records), travel guidebooks
J. Irwin Miller
Joseph Irwin Miller (1909-2004) was born into a prominent Columbus, Indiana, family with business interests in banking, industry, and real estate. Irwin Miller attended Yale University, majoring in Greek and Latin and graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1931. He then received a master’s degree from Oxford University in 1933.
In 1934, Irwin Miller began working at Cummins Engine Company—founded by his great- uncle—which builds diesel engines in Columbus, Indiana. His career began when the firm was still small enough that his responsibilities included opening the daily mail though his innovations in management, marketing, and production brought the firm to profitability and he is credited as a major influence in the company’s growth. Although beset with early difficulties, under Irwin Millers leadership the company persevered to become the leading independent diesel manufacturer in the world (2006 reported sales were $11.4 billion). In addition to being a patron of modern architecture, Irwin Miller was a philanthropist and industrialist well known for his civic activism. A lay leader in the Christian ecumenical and civil rights movements, he was the first layman to be President of the National Council of Churches and was a strong advocate for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (working with Martin Luther King, Jr. to organize the March on Washington).
Xenia Simons Miller
Xenia Simons Miller (1917-2008) was born in Morgantown, Indiana, the daughter of Nellie Hosetta Wellons and Luther A. Simons; her father was involved in the lumber industry as a young man, and by the late 1920s became involved in furniture manufacturing. He was founder of the Columbus Hickory Chair Company (later the Columbus Hickory Furniture Company), one of a number of rustic furniture manufacturers in Indiana during the first half of the twentieth century. Luther Simons is remembered for his ingenuity and willingness to innovate in an industry characterized by traditional products and materials. He developed Simonite to substitute for rattan, an Asian import in short supply during the Second World War. He often employed workers with disabilities as well as elderly individuals, paying them at the same scale as others.
Xenia Simons Miller grew up in and around Columbus, graduating from Columbus High School and Indiana Business College before taking a position at Cummins Engine Company, working in the firm’s purchasing department. This is where she met her husband, whom she married in 1943.
Xenia Miller was deeply involved in the civic and cultural life of her community, her state, and the nation, with interests as varied as horticulture, music, historic preservation, education, and religion. She worked closely with the architects of her home in Columbus as it was being designed, particularly with Alexander Girard, with whose help she continued to develop the house’s interiors for many years.
Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research.
Use Restrictions: Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder. Please contact the Archivist for more information.
Preferred Citation: Preferred Citation: [Title of item], [date], [Container information], J. Irwin Miller and Xenia S. Miller Travel Papers (M004), IMA Archives, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN.