Birdie Bryan Miller PapersBirdie Bryan Miller Papers

Birdie Bryan Miller Papers

Descriptive Summary

Title: Birdie Bryan Miller Papers
Creator: Miller, Birdie Bryan, 1893-1986.
Dates: 1899-1986
Extent: 2.0 boxes (.75 linear feet), including 5 photographs
Collection Number: RBRL/244/BBM
Repository: Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies
Abstract: The Birdie Bryan Miller Papers document Miller’s life and career in Young Harris, Georgia, where she taught at Young Harris College and was active in local politics, including twice serving as mayor of the town and sitting on the city council. The collection includes personal files that consist of clippings, correspondence, and civic records as well as certificates, clippings and campaign material pertaining to her son, former Georgia Governor and United States Senator Zell Miller. The collection also includes items that belonged to her late husband, Stephen Grady Miller, including his diplomas from Young Harris College and King’s College of the University of London, postcards and photographs from his service in World War I, and material from his time in the Georgia State Senate in the 1927-1928 session.

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Birdie Bryan Miller was born on September 2, 1893 near Saluda, South Carolina. She graduated from Summerland College in Leesville, South Carolina, and then moved to New York City to study at the Arts Students League. Upon returning from New York, she took a position as an art teacher at Young Harris College in 1919 and met fellow teacher Grady Miller and his sister Verdie. Bryan and Miller married in 1921 and moved to Oxford, Georgia, where Grady taught at Emory College. They returned to Young Harris in 1922 when he was named dean of Young Harris College.

In 1926, Grady Miller ran for a seat in the state senate representing the 40th District and won. Although only elected for a single term, he worked with future governor E. D. Rivers, who was a former student and then President of the Senate. Miller was named manager of Rivers’ ultimately unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign against Richard B. Russell in 1930.

The Millers had two children, Jane, who was born in 1926, and Zell, who was born in 1932 and would go on to hold several positions in local, state, and national government. Seventeen days after Zell’s birth, Grady Miller passed away on March 12, 1932. The family remained in Young Harris where Birdie Miller worked a variety of jobs and built a stone house, costing $700, for herself and her two children. At the onset of World War II, the family moved to Atlanta so that she and Jane could work at the Southern Aviation plant making buckles for gas masks and earning extra money to pay off the loan on their property.

Upon returning to Young Harris, Miller continued working an assortment of local jobs and participated in many civic activities. Among others, she worked for the post office, was a substitute elementary school teacher, worked for Young Harris College, and was a member of the road crew that built a road on Bald Mountain. She was elected to the Young Harris City Council for a period of over twenty-five years and served as the town clerk and treasurer, during which she collected taxes and accepted utility payments. Whenever there was an election, Miller was asked to man the polls and tally votes as she was widely considered one of the few people in the area that both political parties trusted. She was selected to be the first woman to sit on a jury in Towns County and was elected mayor of Young Harris twice beginning in 1962. She was also elected vice-president of the Georgia Municipal Association and was a founding member of the Garden Club in Young Harris.

In the 1970s, Miller focused on campaigning for her son, Zell, and his growing political career. She refused to join him and his family and supporters at the state capitol in 1974 when he publicly filed to run for Lieutenant Governor because she was busy building a large campaign sign to place in her front yard. By the end of the decade, Miller had stepped back from politics and work in Young Harris. In 1983, she suffered a stroke and died on September 19, 1986.

Scope and Content

The collection is made up of personal files that consist of clippings, correspondence, and civic records as well as certificates, clippings and campaign material pertaining to her son, United States Senator Zell Miller. The collection also includes items that belonged to her late husband, Stephen Grady Miller, including his diplomas from Young Harris College and King’s College of the University of London, postcards and photographs from his service in World War I, and printed material from his time in the Georgia State Senate.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is divided into three series: I. Personal, II. Stephen Grady Miller, and III. Photographs. Each series is arranged alphabetically.


Administrative Information and Restrictions

Preferred Citation

Birdie Bryan Miller Papers, Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia Libraries, Athens, Georgia, 30602-1641.

User Restrictions

Library acts as "fair use" reproduction agent.

Copyright Information

Before material from collections at the Richard B. Russell Library may be quoted in print, or otherwise reproduced, in whole or in part, in any publication, permission must be obtained from (1) the owner of the physical property, and (2) the holder of the copyright. It is the particular responsibility of the researcher to obtain both sets of permissions. Persons wishing to quote from materials in the Russell Library collection should consult the Director. Reproduction of any item must contain a complete citation to the original.

Finding Aid Publication

Finding aid prepared by Russell staff, 2010.


Related Materials

Access Points

Miller, Zell Bryan, 1932-
Municipal government--Records and correspondence.
Photographs.
Women mayors.
Young Harris College.

Related Collections in this Repository

Zell Miller Papers


Series Descriptions and Folder Listing

 

I. Personal Files

Extent: 30.0 folders
Scope and Content: This series consists of Birdie Miller’s personal clippings, programs, correspondence, diplomas and certificates documenting her activities in Young Harris, Georgia, as well as those of her son, Zell Miller. Also included are two record books from the town of Young Harris that contain tax receipts and criminal records.
BoxFolder
11[Address book] (photograph removed), [1946]
12Atlanta Motor Club School Safety Patrol Certificate, Zell Miller, 1944
13Atlanta Public Schools Elementary School Certificate, Zell Miller, 1944
14Birdie Bryan Miller Day, Young Harris College, 1986 September 29
15Brasstown Bald to Young Harris Road Development Project letterhead, 1959
16[Bryan family genealogy], Undated
17[Campaign material] Zell Miller, Lieutenant Governor, 1974
18Certificate of church membership, Zell Miller, 1948
19[Clippings], 1971 – 1986
110[Correspondence, Zell Miller], 1955 – 1956
111[Correspondence], 1970 – 1974
112[Correspondence, Young Harris, Zell Miller], 1981
113Criminal Warrant, Young Harris, 1946
Box
OS1Echoes from Enotah (oversize item), 1974 June
BoxFolder
115Enotah Echoes, 1950-1952
116Enotah Echoes [Editorship Certificates], Zell Miller, 1949
117Georgia Democrat, 1949 July 5
118The Heart of the Blue Ridge, [1925]
119History of Young L. G. Harris College, 1936
120[Letters of condolence], 1986
121The Mountains Within Me [draft, reviews], 1976
 

II. Stephen Grady Miller

Extent: 9.0 folders
Scope and Content: This series contains items relating to Stephen Grady Miller, the late husband of Birdie Bryan Miller, and father of Zell Miller, including his diploma and grades from Young Harris College, two postcards and photographs relating to his service during World War I, a photograph and handbook from his service as a state senator, and the eulogy read at his funeral
Box
OS1Diploma, Kings College, University of London (oversize item), 1919
BoxFolder
22Enotah Echoes, 1932 March 29
23[Eulogy], 1932 March
24Mason’s certificate, 1918
25Members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia, 1927
26Memorial Addresses on the Life and Character of Champ Clark, 1922
27[World War I correspondence] (photographs removed), 1918
28Young Harris College [diploma, grades, program], 1912
29Young Harris College Bulletin [page], [1920]
 

III. Photographs

Extent: 5.0 photographs
Scope and Content: This series contains five photographs including one of Birdie Bryan Miller and her son, Zell Miller. The remaining four are of Stephen Grady Miller.
BoxFolder
210Birdie Bryan Miller and Zell Miller, [1974].
Extent: 1 (3.5x5”) color
211Georgia Senate portrait, Stephen Grady Miller, 1927.
Extent: 1 (5x7”) b/w
212Jane Miller and Stephen Grady Miller, [1931].
Extent: 1 (2.25x3.25”) b/w
213Portrait, World War I, Stephen Grady Miller, 1918.
Extent: 1 (6.5x4.25”) b/w
214[Soldiers on bridge, World War I] (caption) Grady has off hat at end of bridge, 1918.
Extent: 1 (5.5x3.5”) b/w