Lenore M. Sportsman Miller
Papers, 1935-1947

SC23140

Quantity: 6 boxes (2.0 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase: Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Archives, July 2009
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collection, September 2010

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Biographical Note:

Lenore M. Sportsman Miller (1907-2004), a specialist in child psychology, lived and worked in Albany, New York, most of her adult life.  Public records indicate she was the daughter of Robert Henry and Beatrice Harden Sportsman of Chariton County, Missouri; in 1930, she was living in Omaha, Nebraska, and employed as a nurse at the university hospital. Later, it appears she was taking advanced courses in nursing at the Jersey City Medical Center in New Jersey. Some of the early letters and telegrams in these papers indicate she was married to Dr. John King Miller in August 1935, and they settled in Albany, New York, about mid-1938. During the early 1940s she became one of the first female students to enroll at and receive a degree from Albany Medical College. About October 1944 she took up residency at the Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. Her correspondence indicates she had finished her residency in June 1947 and quite likely returned to Albany shortly thereafter. In 1949 she founded and served as director for many years of the Albany Child Guidance Center, which, in 1982, became a division of Parson's Child and Family Center. 

John King Miller (1906-1972) also pursued a career in medicine. He was born in Sierra Leone (Africa), the son of Harland T. and Jane Benson Miller, who were, at the time, serving as missionaries with the United Brethren Church. The family eventually returned to the United States where his father continued his career in the ministry as a church pastor. Census records indicate the family was living in Avery, Iowa, in 1920 and in Pawnee, Nebraska, in 1930. Miller received his degree from the medical school at the University of Nebraska in the early-1930s. Letters and public records indicate he held positions in hospitals in Providence, Rhode Island, and Louisville, Kentucky, before coming to Albany, New York, about mid-1938 to take a position as a bacteriologist with the New York State Department of Health. From about July 1942 to October 1945, he served in the armed forces as an officer attached to the U. S. Army, Thirty-Third General Hospital. After the war, he returned to Albany to continue his career in medical science research at the state health laboratory and Albany Medical Center. By 1951 he was the associate director of the Division of Laboratories and Research in the New York State Department of Health. In August 1961 he was the principal medical bacteriologist in the division and was named head of the sub-department of infectious diseases at Albany Medical Center.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers of Dr. Lenore M. Sportsman Miller consist chiefly of correspondence with her husband, Dr. John King Miller, while he was serving in the armed forces during World War II.  The letters indicate that Dr. John K. Miller was an officer attached to the U.S. Army, Thirty-Third General Hospital. Letters he sent to her are filled with news and commentary from posts at which he was stationed in the United States, North Africa, and Italy. Although there is not much written about his specific duties, he does mention spending most of his time doing research in hospital laboratories. In addition to commenting on his daily activities, he also wrote about the frustration of living apart from his wife. Letters written by Lenore in return kept John informed of developments on the homefront, especially in regards to her studies at medical school and her career aspirations. She, too, writes movingly of her love for him and the frustration of their separation. However, in many of her letters she also asserts her desire to guard her individuality and independence of thought. The wartime letters frequently bear the stamps of military censors and some of them are here in V-mail format.

After the war, the couple continued to exchange letters for almost two years as they were still living apart for career reasons. The letters indicate John had returned to Albany by January 1946 to resume his career at Albany Medical Center Hospital, while Lenore was still working at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore. Again, their letters reveal their love and affection for one another as well as provide a glimpse of their personal, social, and professional lives. The letters conclude in June 1947 with indications that she was finishing up her residency at Johns Hopkins.

These papers also include several letters written by Lenore's brother, Benjamin Sportsman, who also served in the armed forces during World War II. He was an officer in Company H of the U.S. Army 172nd Infantry. His letters indicate he was stationed in New Zealand and other posts in the South Pacific. The letters provide few details about his military duties, focusing, instead, on personal and family matters. During his stay in New Zealand, he met Rhona Olive Chapin, whom he married. Details of the courtship and wedding are found in the letter of July 17, 1944.                   

This series of papers also includes copies of records related to Lenore Sportsman Miller's academic studies and professional credentials; photographs taken while John K. Miller was stationed in Cairo, Egypt, and by Benjamin Sportsman, while he was stationed in New Zealand.

The content of this series of papers is organized as follow: Correspondence (letters) written on paper stationery are arranged chronologically in Boxes 1-3: correspondence that was reproduced in the special V-mail format is housed in Boxes 5-6; photographs and ancillary papers are found in Box 4.

Related Collections Note:

A separate series of 120 original manuscript letters of John K. Miller to Lenore Sportsman Miller are held by the Manuscripts Division of the University of South Carolina Library.external link These letters, dated from November 18, 1942, to July 17, 1943, relate specifically to the time he was stationed at Fort Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina.

Box and Folder List:


Box Folder Description
    Correspondence, 1935-1947
1 1 Correspondence, 1935 (6 items)
1 2 Correspondence, 1937-1939 (8 items)
1 3 Correspondence, July 1942 (13 items)
1 4 Correspondence, August 1942 (18 items)
1 5 Correspondence, September 1942 (11 items)
1 6 Correspondence, October-December 1942 (14 items)
1 7 Correspondence, January-February 1943 (17 items)
1 8 Correspondence, March-December 1943 (14 items)
1 9 Correspondence, January- June 1944 (8 items)
1 10 Correspondence, July-December 1944 (17 items)
1 11 Correspondence, January-September, 1945 (15 Items)
    Letters for July-0ctober 1945 were written on V-mail stationery
1 12 Correspondence, July 1945 (28 items)
1 13 Correspondence, August 1945 (23 items)
1 14 Correspondence, September 1945 (22 items)
1 15 Correspondence, October 1945 (8 items)
2 1 Correspondence, January 1946 (35 items)
2 2 Correspondence, February 1946 (34 items)
2 3 Correspondence, March 1946 (39 items)
2 4 Correspondence, April 1946 (38 items)
2 5 Correspondence, May 1946 (29 items)
2 6 Correspondence, June 1946 (11 items)
2 7 Correspondence, July 1946 (23 items)
2 8 Correspondence, August 1946 (29 items)
2 9 Correspondence, September 1946 (26 items)
2 10 Correspondence, October 1946 (39 items)
2 11 Correspondence, November 1946 (15 items)
2 12 Correspondence, December 1946 (5 items)
3 1 Correspondence, January 1-14, 1947 (15 items)
3 2 Correspondence, January 15-31, 1947 (12 items)
3 3 Correspondence, February 1-14, 1947 (13 items)
3 4 Correspondence, February 15-28, 1947 (8 items)
3 5 Correspondence, March 1-15, 1947 (10 items)
3 6 Correspondence, March 16-31, 1947 (12 items)
3 7 Correspondence, April 1947 (12 items)
3 8 Correspondence, May 1947 (12 items)
3 9 Correspondence, June 1947 (6 items)
3 10 Correspondence – parts of letters, date unknown (7 items)
    Ancillary Papers, ca. 1940-1947
4 1 Letters, certificates, etc. concerning education and professional credentials, 1940-1947 (16 items)
4 2 Greeting cards, invitations, etc. ca. 1940-1947 (11 items)
4 3 Photographs
  1. Benjamin Sportsman and Rhona Olive Chaplin (8 items)
  2. Benjamin Sportsman and others taken at Hanmer Springs, New Zeeland, ca. 1943
4 4 Photographs
  1. Cairo,  Egypt (10 items – enclosed with letter of May 18, [1945])
  2. Unidentified family members? (11 items)
4 5 Newspaper clippings
4 6 Miscellaneous (includes a number of covers for V-mail messages)
    V-mail – John King Miller to Lenore Sportsman Miller
5 1 V-mail, July 1943 (10 items)
5 2 V-mail, August 1943 (21 Items)
5 3 V-mail, September 1943 (18 items)
5 4 V-mail, October 1943 (28 items)
5 5 V-mail, November 1943 (25 item)
5 6 V-mail, December 1943 (29 items)
5 7 V-mail, January 1944 (23 items)
5 8 V-mail, February 1944 (21 items)
5 9 V-mail, March 1944 (26 items)
5 10 V-mail, April 1944 (25 items)
5 11 V-mail, May 1944 (22 items)
5 12 V-mail, June 1944 (20 items)
5 13 V-mail, July 1944 (25 items)
5 14 V-mail, August 1944 (24 items)
5 15 V-mail, September 1944 (25 items)
5 16 V-mail, October 1944 (30 items)
5 17 V-mail, November 1944 (23 items)
5 18 V-mail, December 1944 (23 items)
6 1 V-mail, January 1945 (28 items)
6 2 V-mail, February 1945 (26 items)
6 3 V-mail, March 1945 (25 items)
6 4 V-mail, April 1945 (24 items)
6 5 V-mail, May 1945 (28 items)
6 6 V-mail, June 1945 (26 items)
    V-mail – Lenore Sportsman Miller to John K. Miller
6 7 V-mail, July 1943 (14 items)
6 8 V-mail, August 1943 (25 items)
6 9 V-mail, September 1943 (28 items)
6 10 V-mail, October 1943 (28 items)
6 11 V-mail, November 1943 (17 items)
6 12 V-mail, December 1943 (35 items)
6 13 V-mail, January 1944 (19 items)
6 14 V-mail, February 1944 (24 items)
6 15 V-mail, March 1944 (25 items)
6 16 V-mail, April 1944 (45 items)
6 17 V-mail, May-June 1944 (24 items)
6 18 V-mail, July 1944 (21 items)
6 19 V-mail, August-September 1944 (23 items)
Last Updated: March 10, 2014