Laurence Miller, Ph.D donates to the museum. December 2008. The Wolfsonian – Florida International University announces a substantial donation of ocean liner and cruise ship industry related materials by Laurence Miller, Ph.D., former executive director of libraries at Florida International University.
The materials, which will be known as the Laurence Miller Collection, comprise a comprehensive collection of promotional materials documenting the cruise line industry in the postwar period, ca. 1950-2000, enhancing the library’s strong holdings of ocean liner materials from the interwar period. The Laurence Miller Collection includes tens of thousands of printed materials including passenger accommodation and deck plans, advertisements, announcements, newsletters, schedules, price lists, menus, programs, postcards, promotional leaflets, luggage labels, and company stationery and letterhead. Dr. Miller also donated his extensive collection of reference books and periodicals, which will greatly assist scholars and researchers.
“This gift is a wonderful addition to the library. It is an extraordinarily rich collection, almost a comprehensive one, and it is the perfect complement to our existing holdings, enhancing our collection without duplicating materials,” says Francis Luca, Wolfsonian chief librarian and FIU adjunct professor of History. “Dr. Miller is a true aficionado, a serious collector of cruise line promotional literature for the past fifty years, and we’re thrilled to have received this significant donation.”
The collection documents an entire era of ocean voyages, including the transition from ocean crossing to cruising. Highlights include an emphasis on deck plans, brochures illustrating the ships’ accommodations and fares, and menus printed onboard the Atlantic Liners and cruise ships.
"I'm delighted to have found the perfect home for my collection," says Dr. Miller. "The Wolfsonian has long had an extremely valuable collection of brochures, deck plans, and menus from the period of the 1930s and earlier. The collection I am contributing should provide the nucleus of a much larger collection that includes the postwar era and the evolution from crossing to cruising. The collection and the books that support it provide a rather complete description of the modern cruise industry's history and development." Dr. Miller was the executive director of libraries at FIU from 1981 to 2005 and, following retirement, lives in Miami.
Dr. Miller began collecting the materials in the mid-1950s, when as a teenager he would write to the chief stewards of ocean liners and ask them to send him menus. He is an avid cruise-goer who has been on well over three hundred ocean voyages and he has written frequently about the cruise line industry for over three decades for a variety of publications. He is a regular contributor to Cruise Travel Magazine and in the 1980s and ’90s wrote frequently for Travel Agent. His work also appeared in Travel Weekly and in more than twenty newspapers throughout the U.S. and Canada. He is the co-author (with Giora Israel, a Carnival Corporation Vice President) of Dictionary of the Cruise Industry (2000).
Materials from the Laurence Miller Collection and other recent donations to the library collection can be accessed via the Internet at www.librarygifts.wolfsonian.org. The library has begun the process of cataloging and digitizing the collection in order to make it available to the public, and plans to showcase items from the Laurence Miller Collection in an upcoming exhibition in the library’s foyer.
Wolfsonian Museum – FIU
1001 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139