Who was A.B. Miller?

A.B. Miller Waynesburg

Alfred Brasher Miller was a member of the first graduating class of Waynesburg College in 1853. Miller then became professor of mathematics and natural science at his alma mater. He was named college president in 1859 and served in that role until 1902. He and wife, Margaret Kerr Bell Miller (Principal of the Female Seminary), oversaw the integration of the Female Department and the college, creating one of the first truly co-educational institutions in the country. In principle and practice he was pro-women’s suffrage, an abolitionist and advocated education for all. He was a nationally known figure, serving as moderator of the General Assembly of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1876, and in 1874 he was a delegate to the Evangelical Union Church Council in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was editor of the Cumberland Presbyterian and author of the book “Doctrines and Genius of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.” He was responsible for the construction of Old Main (1879 to 1900), which was later named Miller Hall in his honor. He worked and taught right up to his death in 1902, which poignantly occurred in Old College (Hanna Hall).

Miller’s Diary Comes Home

On Thursday, September 19, 2013, Rea Redd, professor of history and Director of Eberly Library, received a phone call from a woman in Arizona. Originally from Greene County, she had been in contact with Redd who assisted her with genealogical research she was conducting. The reason for this particular call was to inform the University of an item being auctioned on eBay that would be of interest to the institution—a diary belonging to A.B. Miller. The seller of the diary had come across it in a box of books they had purchased at a charity rummage sale. Realizing the opportunity to obtain a priceless piece of history, the University entered into the bidding and won the auction at midnight the following Saturday. Within a few days, the diary came home to Waynesburg.

About the Diary

The diary’s entries span from 1856 to 1864. In it, Miller documented day to day events as well as notes for various sermons, speeches and addresses. A quick glance at just a few of the diary’s pages makes Miller’s values and views on numerous subjects readily apparent.

What the Diary Means to Waynesburg University

Under the presidency of Timothy Thyreen, Waynesburg University returned to its Christian founding and its mission to educate students to live lives of purpose and to be effective leaders in their communities. Achievements such as the establishment of the Bonner Scholar Program and other scholarship programs, as well as the construction of Roberts Chapel and other campus improvements, are certainly benchmarks by which the success of advancing our Christian mission can be measured. But to have the writings of one of the individuals who set everything in motion not only confirms the direction Waynesburg is heading as an institution, but proves that the values it possesses are truly everlasting. It is providential that the diary would find its way back to Waynesburg not long after Douglas Lee succeeded Thyreen as the University’s fifteenth president. President Lee has an unparalleled passion for the institution and its history, and he sees the importance of educating the campus community regarding Waynesburg’s founding traditions. Miller laid Waynesburg University’s foundation, Thyreen changed the physical and spiritual landscape of the institution and Lee is poised to take up the rest of that work.