Ivor L. Miller Papers
Scope and Contents
Papers documenting the research materials and scholarly work of Dr. Ivor L. Miller in cultural studies of the African Diaspora. The papers include photographs, audio and video recordings, publications, correspondence and printed material primarily relating to Miller's study of the linguistic, musical and ritual influence of West African Ékpè society (predominantly in Nigeria and Cameroon) on the Cuban Abakuá society. Included are photographs and videos of a series of meetings between Ékpè and Abakuá leaders organized by Miller between 2001 and 2007.
The papers also contain photographs, interviews, drafts, publication and promotional materials for Miller's earlier work on graffiti writers in New York City, Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City. And interviews, drafts and promotional material for Ifá Will Mend Our Broken World: Thoughts on Yorùbá Religion and Culture in Africa and the Diaspora by Wándé Abimbola; with interviews and introduction by Ivor Miller. Miller's dissertation work on the Lukumi-Yoruba initiation systems of Ocha and Ifa (Santería) in Cuba is also documented in the papers.
- Majority of material found within 1990-2018
- Miller, Ivor (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Portions of the Ivor Miller Papers are restricted for research use: digital materials in series 8 are restricted pending review; original analog audio and video recordings are restricted for preservation purposes. Upon request, digital copies will be provided for research use when possible. A small amount of material is restricted by donor agreement to protect the privacy of research subjects, see notes at the item level. Particularly fragile items may also be restricted for preservation purposes.
Portions of this collection are stored off-site and require advance notice before use. Please contact Archives and Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
Requests for permission to publish material from the Ivor L. Miller Papers should be directed to the Archives and Special Collections. It is the responsibility of the researcher to identify and satisfy the holders of all copyrights.
Biographical / Historical
Dr. Ivor L. Miller is a cultural historian specializing in the African Diaspora in the Caribbean and the Americas. He is a graduate of Hampshire College (B.A., 1985), Yale University (M.A., African American Studies) and Northwestern University (Ph.D, 1995). He has been a Scholar in Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, at the Institute for Research in the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC) at the City College of New York, and a Visiting Professor at the Center for Black Diaspora at DePaul University, a Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria (2009-2011), and a Senior Fellow at the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution (2011-2012). Dr. Miller was a Copeland Fellow at Amherst College in 2002. His 1995 doctoral dissertation was a study of the Santería religion in Cuban society and its influences in the U.S. He has traveled extensively in West Africa, South America and the Caribbean, particularly in Cuba, where he did research from 1991-2022, conducting interviews, recording video and taking photographs.
37.25 Linear feet (8 records storage boxes, 12 cassette tape storage boxes, 23 archives box, 1 half archives box, 2 oversize flat box, 1 negative file box, 1 CD/DVD box, 1 tube, 1 mapcase folder)
Language of Materials
Papers documenting the research materials and scholarly work of Dr. Ivor L. Miller in cultural studies of the African Diaspora. The papers include photographs, audio and video recordings, publications, correspondence and printed material primarily relating to Miller's study of the Ékpè society of the Cross River region of Nigeria and Cameroon and Abakuá mutual-aid society in Cuba and their diasporic connections. Miller's earlier work on graffiti writers in New York City and Yorùbá and Santería religions are also documented in the collection.
This collection is organized into eight series:
- Series 1: Aerosol Kingdom: Subway Painters of New York City, 1974-2005 (bulk 1990-2003)
- Series 2: Research Materials on Cuba and Abakuá, 1900-2015 (bulk 1975-2005)
- Series 3: Audio and Video Recordings, 1991-2003
- Series 4: Other Research Projects, 1990-1997
- Series 5: Paper Materials and Books, Additions to the Collection, 1886-2018 (bulk 1990-2018)
- Series 6: Photographs and Slides, Additions to the Collection, 1901-2005 (bulk 1985-2005)
- Series 7: Video Recordings, Additions to the Collection, 1964-2017 (bulk 2004-2014)
- Series 8: Digital Materials, Additions to the Collection, 2008-2022
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection developed incrementally through donations by Ivor Miller over the years 2002-2022.
The papers were minimally processed in 2007 by Peter Nelson. At that time, materials were sorted into five series but remained primarily unsorted within each series. Description at the item level as well as some collection level description was provided by Ivor Miller. In 2013 and 2015, additional accessions were incorporated into the existing series by Peter Nelson.
In 2018, series 5: Cuban Musical Recordings was separated from the collection and formed part of a new collection, the Ivor L. Miller Collection of Nigerian and Cuban Musical Recordings.
In 2022, four additional series were added to the papers by Mariah Leavitt in order to accomodate the addition of new and previously unlisted accessions. The new series are organized by material type with sub-series by accession number. This structure is intended to facilitate the addition of future accessions to the papers. Ivor Miller provided the majority of the item level description for the materials in these series. In addition, the item level descriptions in series 3 were enhanced using description provided by Ivor Miller at the time of donation and description at the collection level was updated.
We anticipate that the papers will be thoroughly processed in the future, once the collection is complete.
- Ekpe (Society)
- Santeria -- Cuba Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Sociedad Abakuá (Cuba)
- Street art -- New York (State) -- New York Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Yoruba (African people) Subject Source: Library of Congress Subject Headings
- Ivor L. Miller, Peter A. Nelson, Mariah Leavitt
- 2007, 2013, 2015, 2022
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Amherst College Archives and Special Collections Repository
Amherst College Archives & Special Collections
Robert Frost Library
61 Quadrangle Drive
Amherst MA 01002-5000