Herman Miller Historic Photo Collection
Cumberland, Maryland through the eyes of Herman J. Miller (from Western Maryland’s Historical Library)
Herman Miller was a lifelong Cumberland resident with a great interest in the history of the city, serving on the City’s Advisory Commission on Historical Matters and the Historic Preservation Commission during the 1970. He was also a member of the Cumberland Fire Department until his retirement. In 1978, he was the subject of an oral history by Dr. Harry Stegmaier of the history department at Frostburg State University. The resulting text was entitled Cumberland, Maryland Through the Eyes of Herman J. Miller, and covers topics from transportation and industry in Cumberland to the clubs and taverns and the local military forces.
Dr. Stegmaier wrote in the introduction to the book that what Miller had created was not a history of the City of Cumberland, but a resource, drawn from his recollections, memories, scrapbooks, and photographs. “Above all, however, Herman J. Miller’s memory of Cumberland was our greatest asset in this project. It is clear, vivid, well-documented, and when need be, he does his research well.”
The project as designed by Dr. Stegmaier involved meetings between the two men where a set of questions on a variety of subjects was agreed upon. Mr. Miller then wrote out answers to the questions. Clarification questions followed and then Dr Stegmaier edited the rough draft, being very careful to leave the copy in Herman Miller’s own words as far as was possible.
The book was never published, but copies of the text were made available to local public and university libraries and individuals. It has been digitized in order to make it more widely available and to reduce wear and tear on the few copies that exist.
The photographs after each chapter were, according to the introduction, part of Miller’s own collection. The collection was later bought by the City of Cumberland and is online at the Herman and Stacia Miller Photo Collection on the City of Cumberland’s website. The Cumberland Sunday Times in September 1982 carried an article on the Millers and their photographs, Valley Street Man’s Hobby Benefits Area Residents. Where possible the original photograph has been scanned and is included in its place in the book. However not all the photographs that Miller included have been located and so there are places where a scan of the Xeroxed page has been included. In addition, where there is no original photograph to use, one of a similar scene taken in the same time period has been included after the scan of the xeroxed page. Since the photographs are a significant part of telling the history of Cumberland it seemed important to illustrate the document as closely as possible to the original. Should any copies of the images that Miller selected be found, they will be included on this website, with attribution as to the current owner.