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E. Ethelbert Miller papers

Identifier: MS2215

Scope and Contents

A meticulous record keeper, Ethelbert Miller has amassed correspondence, fliers, posters, journals, photographs, interviews, and articles pertaining to his career ranging from 1936-2022 with the bulk covering 1962-2018. His journals, revised works and collaborative correspondence allow the opportunity to study his evolving writing process. Through the many features, articles, interviews, reviews, awards and certificates, we are able to understand how enthusiastically Miller has been received by his peers within the poetry community as well as outside it.

The collection also contains the subseries "Poet Files," which contains correspondence, promotional materials and works by various poets within the Washington, D.C. area that has been amassed by Ethelbert Miller.

A small portion of the collection (Series 2) relates to the work of D.C. Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick.


  • Majority of material found within 1962-2018
  • 1936-2022

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research. Boxes 213 and 214 in Series 1 Subseries 6 have been restricted for 50 years (until 2072) because they contain copies of manuscripts and other writings sent to Miller by other authors, some of which may have not given permission for their works to be accessed. Additional manuscripts were donated in 2022 and have been placed in Box R1.

Restrictions on Use

Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.

Biographical Note

E. Ethelbert Miller is a writer and literary activist. He is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C. For ten years he has been the editor of Poet Lore, the oldest poetry magazine published in the United States. In 1996, he delivered the commencement address at Emory and Henry College and was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature. Mr. Miller has been a Fulbright Senior Specialist Program Fellow to Israel in 2004 and 2012. In February 2006 he was the keynote speaker at the 50th Anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Israel, at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.

Miller is the founder and former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. He served as a Commissioner for the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities from 1997-2008. He is board emeritus for the PEN/ Faulkner Foundation.

The author of several collections of poetry, he has written memoirs including Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer (2000) and The 5th Inning (2009). Fathering Words was selected by the D.C. Public Library for its DC WE READ, one book, one city program in 2003. His poetry anthology In Search of Color Everywhere was awarded the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award in 1994.

In 1978 “E. Ethelbert Miller Day” was proclaimed in D.C. on September 28, 1978. Miller would receive the Mayor’s Arts Award in 1982 for Literature, the Public Humanities Award in 1988, the Columbia Merit Award in 1994, and made an honorary citizen of Baltimore on July 17, 1994.

On May 21, 2001 “ E. Ethelbert Miller Day” was proclaimed in Jackson, Tennessee. In 2001 and 2003 he was honored at the National Book Festival hosted by Laura Bush. In February 2007 he was awarded the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award by Poets and Writers. In May 2007, Miller was awarded a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship. In June 2009 a Sea Change Fellowship by the Gaea Foundation.

Mr. Miller has taught at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, American University, George Mason University, and Emory and Henry College. For a number of years he was a core faculty member with the Bennington Writing Seminars. He delivered the Seminars commencement address in 1999, 2003 and 2013.

From 1974-2000 he was the founder and director of the Ascension Poetry Reading Series which presented hundreds of African American poets and poets of color to the general public. In 1997 he worked with the Inter-Governmental Philatelic Corporation (IGPC) and was responsible for placing twelve African American writers on postage stamps issued by Ghana and Uganda. The writers honored were Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Mari Evans, Henry Louis Gates, Jr, Charles Johnson, June Jordan, Toni Cade Bambara, Sterling A. Brown, Alex Haley, Stephen Henderson, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright.

In 2003 Miller’s poems were selected for sculpture installations at the Petworth and DuPont Circle Metro stations. Mr. Miller is often heard on National Public Radio. He is host and producer of The Scholars on UDC-TV and writes a regular monthly column, E on DC for Capital Community News. His E-Notes has been a popular blog since 2004. On April 19, 2015, Mr. Miller was inducted into the Washington DC Hall of Fame.


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Language of Materials



Included are correspondence, fliers, posters, journals, photographs, interviews, and articles related to the artistic life of poet E. Ethelbert Miller dating from 1936-2022 with the bulk from 1962-2018. The collection also contains poet files with correspondence, fliers, programs, posters, photographs, interviews, and articles relating to specific poets within the Washington, D.C. area. A small portion of the collection (Series 2) relates to the work of D.C. Poet Laureate Dolores Kendrick.


Organized into 2 series: Ethelbert Miller materials and Dolores Kendrick materials. Series 1 is further organized into 11 subseries.

Physical Location

Materials are stored off-site, and will require additional retrieval time. Please contact the Special Collections Research Center for more information.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of E. Ethelbert Miller, 2007 January 29 (2007.029), May 2017 (2017.025), January 2018 (2018.002) There have been many subsequent donations. Please ask for assistance if you would like more information about these additions.

Related Materials

Due to Miller's connection to other DC-area poets and literary groups, there may be related materials in other collections within the Special Collections Research Center. Some collections to consult include: MS2007 Grace Cavalieri papers; MS2320 Daniel Schwarz DC poetry oral history collection; and MS2389 Beltway Poetry Quarterly records.

Miller's 2021 donation (2021.035) included five editions of Black Box, a recorded poetry magazine. These tapes compliment the SCRC's exisiting collection, MS2172.

Miller has a podcast titled "on the margin" From the online description: "On The Margin is a radio program that examines our literary culture. The program serves as a public forum for published writers and scholars. The show is for people who are book lovers. On The Margin also places an emphasis on providing a platform for people engaged in running literary institutions such as libraries, bookstores and creative writing programs. On The Margin aims to explore the link between culture and politics, offering the community a better understanding of the motion of history."

This podcast is part of the WPFW archives.

Separated Materials

Four books were removed from the ACC2017.025 donation and added to the Special Collections stacks. These include Hoodoo 3, Hoodoo 4, Brown Sugar 3, and In Daddy's Arms I am Tall.

Two poetry chapbooks by Essex Hemphill from ACC2021.020 and two additional books--Guns in the Hands of Artists and A Parallel Road--from ACC2021.035 were cataloged separetely in 2021-2022.

Guide to the E. Ethelbert Miller papers, 1936-2022, bulk 1962-2018
Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University Repository

2130 H Street NW
Washington 20052 United States of America