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Special Collections: Guide to the Charley Miller Papers

Arranged and described by Brenda Howitson Steeves
Raymond H. Fogler Library Special Collections Department
September 2004
 
Introduction and Summary Information
 
Collection Title: Charley Miller Papers.
Dates of the Collection: 1931-1966 (inclusive); 1935-1965 (bulk).
Provenance: The Charley Miller papers came to the Special Collections Department as a gift from Abraham and Frieda Miller in 1983.
Collection Number: MS 348.
Box Numbers: 1-5 (formerly Boxes 1193-1196 + folio).
Size and Arrangement: The collection consists of two archival record cartons, one oversized box of material, two film boxes and 18 framed photographs (4.3 cubic feet).
Conservation Note: The collection has been re-housed in acid-free folders and boxes.
Preferred Citation: Charley Miller Papers, Special Collections, Raymond H. Fogler Library, University of Maine.
Restrictions on Access and Use: Kept at Fogler Library's offsite storage facility. One week's notice required for retrieval.
 

Biography
 
The collection contains the papers of Charley Miller of Bangor, Maine, an outdoorsman, Maine guide, fight conditioner, and outdoor cook.
 
Maurice Charles Miller was born in Bangor on July 4, 1900, the son of Max and Rebecca Miller. As a young man he had a brief career as a boxer, quitting the ring after his first defeat. He then opened a training and conditioning camp for fighters at Moosehead Lake, introducing boxers such as Primo Carnera, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney and Jack Sharkey to the Maine woods, hunting and fishing. He later branched out as a guide and host to famous people in sports and show business, including Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Arthur Godfrey and Sally Rand. From these associations he became a celebrity in his own right and spent more than thirty years promoting the state of Maine and himself at numerous sports shows, fairs, and public venues around the country. He later became associated with a lodge on Mooselookmeguntic Lake and served as a promoter for the Rangleley Lake area.
 
Miller also billed himself “The world’s greatest outdoor cook” and spent a great deal of time cooking outdoor meals for his celebrity guests. In 1963, with Bangor attorney Oscar Walker, he formed the Charley Miller Outdoor Cooker Corporation to market his all-purpose outdoor cooker, a kind of reflector oven. This unit, the result of two years of experimentation, aimed to take advantage of the increasing popularity of backyard barbecuing. Charley Miller was tireless in promoting his prowess as a cook using this device.
 
Miller also devoted considerable time to charitable activities, presenting his shows and demonstrations at hospitals and orphanages as well as to Boy Scouts and other groups. He was especially active at the Pine Tree Camp in Maine. He maintained a large library of films of famous fights and outdoor activities and showed these often at clubs, civic organizations and youth groups. A veteran of World War I, he was a member of the Jewish War Veterans, the American Legion, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He was also a member of Congregation Beth Israel of Bangor, B’nai B’rith, the Penobscot Conservation Club and the Bangor Elks Lodge.
 
Charley Miller died in November, 1966, survived by six brothers and a sister.
 

Scope and Content Note
 
The collection contains Charley Miller’s collection of photographs, celebrity endorsements, and news articles documenting his work as a Maine guide, outdoorsman and outdoor cook.
 
The collection is arranged in two series: I. Photographs and Scrapbooks and II. Personal Papers. The photographs and scrapbooks make up the majority of the collection and thoroughly document Miller’s career and his association with sports and show business celebrities of his day. At some earlier date, members of the library staff prepared an individual list of photographs for a segment of the collection; this list is retained at the start of the Box List because it gives a good indication of the contents of all of the notebooks and scrapbooks in Series I. Each of the volumes in this series overlaps in dates and subject matter with all of the others, and each documents Charley Miller’s activities in conditioning boxers, meeting with celebrities, appearing at sports shows, and demonstrating his outdoor cooker.
 
The two scrapbooks dated 1931-1965 are labeled “Cooking outdoors with Charley Miller” but contain photographs, newspaper clippings, etc., from Miller’s other activities as well. Notebook 1, 1936-1965, includes photographs of Jack Dempsey, 1936; Lady Bird Johnson with Miller, 1965; and Maine Senator Edmund Muskie and family, 1965. It also contains newspaper articles about Miller and Oscar Walker and their outdoor cooker, and about Miller’s training of boxers. The next notebook, also labeled “Cooking outdoors with Charley Miller” (1947-1958) contains pictures of Miller’s charity work with children, his appearances at various sports shows, and a small book of his recipes. The notebook labeled “Here he is presented with some of the nation’s foremost personalities” (1948-1959) documents Miller’s appearances at shopping centers, fairs and sports shows, as well as on various television shows of that era. Almost all of these appearances concern his outdoor cooking and his cooking oven. Photographs of Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox and Jack Sharkey are also included, as are drawings and writings of Bill Geagan, sports writer for the Bangor Daily News. Bill Geagan’s work appears throughout the collection.
 
The notebook labeled “Charley Miller, famous Maine guide” (1945-1966) contains photographs of a reunion of former boxers, 1965, as well as individual photographs and letters of Gene Tunney, Ted Williams, Jack Sharkey, Max Baer, and Sally Rand. Also included are articles about Miller’s outdoor cooking. Another notebook labeled “Cooking outdoors with Charley Miller” (1936-1964) has photographs of Bill Geagan, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, and Jack Dempsey, as well as of Miller’s efforts to promote the Rangeley Lake region. The two scrapbooks labeled “Charley Miller, Maine guide” (1936-1949, 1947-1951) contain photographs of hunting and fishing in 1948, as well as of Miller’s appearances at Maine clubs and sports shows and at Dow Field in Bangor. They also document his work with children with disabilities, especially at the Hyde Memorial Home.
 
Series II contains a small amount of personal material, including Miller’s address book, advertisements for his services and his outdoor cooker, a few pieces of incoming correspondence, financial information, articles about his activities, and drafts of articles written by Miller.
 
The collection also contains 29 16 mm films from Miller’s collection. Some of the films are about boxers and boxing, others are about hunting and fishing including Miller’s own activities. All apparently were used by Miller in his speaking engagements at clubs and charity events.
 
The Library made a microfilm of some parts of this collection in 1983; the microfilm and a frame-by-frame guide to its contents are also included in the collection.
 

Box List
 
Series I: Photographs and scrapbooks
 
Box 1
 
Folder
 
1 Primo Carnera and Charley Miller taken in 1934, Moosehead Lake, Carnera training for the Maxier fight; Charley Miller and Carnera sparring an hour before heavyweight championship fight with Max Baer in 1934
2 Primo Carnera on way to New York for the Baer championship fight, (1934); Primo Carnera splitting wood (2 copies)
3 Charley Miller and Primo Carnera together; Primo Carnera with chef and trainer
4 Primo Carnera and training crew(?); Primo Carnera being fitted for dress suit
5 Primo Carnera and Governor Brann shaking hands; Charley Miller with Primo Carnera
6 Primo Carnera ice fishing with two friends; photograph of Primo Carnera
7 Charley Miller, Primo Carnera and friend with bear skin; Al McCoy shadow boxing, 1936
8 Charley Miller with Al McCoy, 1935; Dave Castilloux? and Al McCoy sparring
9 Jack Dempsey with friends in front of train; Dempsey and friends, 1933
10 Charley Miller, Jack Dempsey and two men in boxing ring; Jack Dempsey and Jess Willard
11 Jack Dempsey splitting wood; Charley Miller fastening Jack Dempsey' s snowshoe
12 Max Baer clowning with Charley Miller, 1938; Max Baer and wife
13 Max Baer and Al McCoy, 1935 (2 copies)
14 Jack Dempsey, Benny Lucas and Max Baer, 1934; James Johnston and Primo Carnera signing contract(?), 1936
15 Tony Canzoneri in the boxing ring; Benny Leonard in the ring
16 Benny Leonard in boxing ring; James Johnston with two friends, 1936
17 W.L. "Young" Stribling in boxing stance; Ernie Schaaf at Bangor auditorium, 1932
18 Charley Miller greeting Ernie Schaaf in Bangor, 1932; Johnny Risko and two friends with string of fish
19 Jimmy Braddock signing paper with three men, 1935; James Braddock family at home
20 Four frames depicting Jimmie Braddock; Charley Miller's first radio appearance with Linus Travers in Boston, 1936
21 Charley Miller at Danbury fair, Danbury, Conn.; Charley Miller on t.v. in Boston, Mass., 1958
 
Series I: Photographs and scrapbooks cont.
 
Box 1 cont.
 
Folder
 
22 Charley Miller on t.v. in Bangor, Me., I958; Charley Miller on the Bud Leavitt show in Bangor, 1964
23 Charley Miller on t.v. in Bangor, 1964; Charley Miller sports show, Belfast, Maine, 1959
24 Sportsman show, Waterville, Maine; Governor Reed, Bob Cousy, Charley Miller serving, Augusta Sportsmen Show, 1964
25 Cleveland Sportsman show, Cleveland, Ohio; Sportsmen show with South Portland Lions Club
26 Sportsmen’s show, South Portland Lion's Club; New York boat show, 1959
27 New York boat show for Mercury Motor, 1956; Charley Miller with Alice Gilbert, Bill Geagan and Doc Almy
28 Charley Miller and Doc Almy, Boston Post, sparring, 1934; Charley Miller with Doc Almy, 1936
29 Charley Miller and Doc Almy at Moosehead Lake; Governor Brann and Charley Miller
30 Governor Brann in ring with four men; Ed Haren with mail, Sept. 27, 1936
31 Sen. Ed Muskie and family at China Lake, Maine, Charley Miller cooking;
Muskie family around picnic table and Charley Miller with grilled steak at China Lake
32 Mr. & Mrs. Collins with Charley Miller holding fish at Moosehead Lake;
photograph of Tom Yawkey
33 Ted Williams and Charley Miller holding fish; Babe Ruth and a Miller relation (?)
34 Eddie Collins of Red Sox and Mrs. Collins sawing wood; Joseph H. Pilates in loincloth, 1945, New York City
35 Charley Miller and Joseph Pilates eating outdoors; Joseph Pilates' contrology... ages 57-60-72-82
36 Dewitt MacKenzie fishing; Charley Miller, Dewitt MacKenzie and man holding fish
37 Photograph depicting a river, signed Dewitt MacKenzie; To Charley Miller "in the Maine Woods" with all the best from Ripley's "Believe It or Not" [Photograph of Ripley]
38 One Eye Connelly with Charley Miller (2 photos)
39 Clem Norton speaking; photograph of Hannah Dempsey
40 Jock McAvoy splitting wood with Charley Miller; photograph of Tex Rickard
41 Jimmy Braddock and three men, 1935; Gene Tunney
 
 
Series I: Photographs and scrapbooks cont.
 
Box 1 cont.
 
Folder
 
42 Milo Milcradovic demonstrating cooking with Anne Russell; Earl Boardman (?), Tansey Norton and Charley Miller on lake
43 Charley Miller holding fish with Sally Rand and Herbert Swett; photograph of Jack Sharkey
44 Postcard depicting Charley Miller smoking a cigarette; photograph of Charley Miller
45 Charley Miller making strawberry shortcake, 1964; Charley Miller cooking outdoors, 1965
46 Charley Miller displaying meal in outdoor cooker; Charley Miller cooking
47 Charley Miller fishing; Charley Miller displaying reflector oven
48 Charley Miller holding a rifle; Charley Miller displaying clear charcoal
49 Baking fish with potatoes and bacon in reflector oven; fish caught at Moosehead Lake, 1931
50 Back yard cooking; Miller's Restaurant sign, Bangor, Maine
51 Charley Miller's car; Charley Miller advertising Bleader Lure
52 Charley Miller at sports show, 1950, Brunswick, Me. (?); Charley Miller showing films to young boys in Portland, Me.
53 Children at Pine Tree Camp (2 photos)
54 Pine Tree girl eating ice cream on steps; Pine Tree Camp worker wiping young boy’s hands
55 Charley Miller blazing a trail with Pine Tree children; Charley Miller and Pine Tree children making a bed of pine boughs
56 Display window, 1935; Charley Miller and two women in a canoe
57 Charley Miller on crutches with a nurse; Charley Miller sparring with doctor
58 Photographs depicting a hospital
59 Charley Miller and a large group of people on a lake shore (2 photos)
60 Charley Miller and two couples at bar; Charley Miller and a group of people at a banquet
61 Charley Miller and friends at banquet table; Charley Miller teaching wood splitting
62 Charley Miller and unidentified woman sawing wood; Charley Miller and boxer (?) sawing wood
63 Charley Miller and two men conversing; two men holding string of fish
64 Two boxers in ring; Boston Post Santa Claus fund
65 Man eating a chicken; Mr. Rice and Charley Miller holding fish
66 Charley Miller and two men in front of hunting camp; man with dogs in front of hunting camp
67 Charley Miller and three friends by hunting camp (2 photos)
 
Series I: Photographs and scrapbooks cont.
 
Box 1 cont.
 
Folder
 
68 House of David basketball team of Chicago; Charley Miller and two women with Miller beer
69 Charley Miller cooking while three children watch; Charley Miller
paddling canoe, 1949
70 Charley Miller's cooking utensils; Plane taxiing on unidentified lake
71 Tent site; Charley Miller and two friends on a shore
72 Charley Miller and Jack Dempsey; Mrs. Collins; Charley Miller and Eddie Collins splitting wood and holding fish
73 Charley Miller sparring with Doc Almy (?); Boy and bear "boxing" while Charley Miller looks on
74 Charley Miller sparring with Gene Tunney (?); Charley Miller and boxer(?) splitting and carrying wood
75 Charley Miller and two friends on steps
76 Photograph of Charley Miller (located physically in Box 3)
77 Charley Miller sparring with friend; Charley Miller and three friends
78 Charley Miller and Jack Dempsey(?) with women; Charley Miller with two women boxing
79 Charley Miller snowshoeing; Charley Miller and child snowshoeing
80 Charley Miller with boxers (located physically in Box 3)
81 Charley Miller sparring with Primo Carnera (located physically in Box 3)
81a Illustration from Gus Lesnevich to Charley Miller, undated (located
physically in Box 3)
82 Miscellaneous photographs
83 Unidentified negatives
 
Framed photographs
 
Newpaper article: Maine’s guide to champions ... , 1937 + letter, 1937, from Eddie
Collins,Vice President & General Manager, Boston Red Sox
Drawing of Al McCoy, 1940
Charley Miller and Capt. Bobby Doerr, 1949
Photo collage: Arthur Godfrey and Miller, 1950
Charley Miller with Jack Dempsey, 1936, 1951
Drawings of Charley Miller from Fred Ludekins(?), 1951
Advertisement from Life, June 18, 1951
Gov. Burton Cross & Charley Miller, second Penobscot River salmon, May 22, 1953
Tony DeMarco & Charley Miller, Bemis, Maine, 1956
Charley Miller at New York Boat Show, 1956
Charley Miller cooking in outdoors, undated
Charley Miller and children in canoe, undated
Framed photographs cont.
 
Lank Leonard cartoon panel, undated
Photo collage of Charley Miller, undated
Charley Miller with unidentified man, undated
Gus Lesnevich, undated
Charley Miller with handicapped children, undated (2 photographs)
 
Box 2
 
Scrapbooks
 
Folder
 
1 Two scrapbooks, 1931-1965
2 Photos, etc., from notebook 1, 1936-1965
3 Scrapbook of get-well cards, 1937
4-5 Photos from notebook labeled: Cooking outdoors with Charley Miller
(1947-1958)
6-7 Photos from notebook labeled: Here he is presented with some of the
nation’s foremost personalities (1948-1959)
8 Photos from notebook labeled: Charley Miller, famous Maine guide (1945-1966)
9 Photos from notebook labeled: Cooking outdoors with Charley Miller
(1936-1964)
10 Photos from scrapbook labeled: Charley Miller, Maine guide (1936-1949)
11 Scrapbook cover
12-13 Photos from scrapbook labeled: Charley Miller, Maine guide (1947-1951)
14 Scrapbook cover
15 Scrapbook (1950-1966)
 
Series II: Personal papers
 
16 Address book
17 Advertisements, etc.
18 Correspondence, awards, etc.
19 Financial information, deeds
20 Newspaper and magazine articles about Miller
21 Writing, drafts, etc.
22 Microfilm of collection + guide [located physically in Box 3]
 
Box 3
 
Oversized material
 
 
Box 4
 
Films (16 mm) about boxing
 
Box 5
 
Films (16 mm) in box labeled “Regular film for clubs”

 

Finding Aids for selected manuscript collections in the Special Collections Department at Fogler Library are accessible online in URSUS, in a browsable Guide to Manuscript Collections. Please contact Special Collections at spc@umit.maine.edu or (207) 581-1686 for further information.

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