Boston Public Library

Jack Miller Collection

John B. "Jack" Miller (1924-1948) was a Black photojournalist active from 1939-1948. Jack Miller was born and raised in Boston, and during his high school years he worked as a photographer and columnist for the Boston Chronicle, a newspaper representing the West Indian community in Boston. After graduation, Miller was inducted into the U.S. Army, serving primarily as a T/5 in the U.S. Signal Corps attached to the 372nd Infantry Regiment stationed at Fort Huachuca in Arizona. While at Fort Huachuca, Miller documented activities in the camp including daily life, training, drilling, sports, the camp buildings, and visits by dignitaries. In 1945, Miller, a musician in his own right, served as the Public Relations Officer for a national tour by the 229th Army Ground Forces Band the "Jungleers."

After his discharge in 1946, Miller returned to Boston to pursue work as a photojournalist, contributing photographs to Black newspapers including the Baltimore Afro-American and Amsterdam News, and to Ebony magazine. In addition to his freelance work, Miller was hired as a staff photographer for the Baltimore Afro-American for a brief time before returning to Boston. Jack Miller's perseverance and hustle in pursuit of a staff job paid off in early 1948 as he accepted an offer to work for the Amsterdam News. Before he could relocate to New York and embark on his new career, Jack Miller died suddenly less than a month before his twenty-fourth birthday.

The Jack Miller Collection includes photographs taken by Jack Miller: photographs of his family and friends; photographs taken during his military service; and photographs taken as a photojournalist, both freelance and staff. There are also a number of personal and family photographs taken by other photographers, or possibly by family members and friends, including photographs of Miller as a child.

Adding rich context to the photographs, the collection includes correspondence, documents, and ephemera related to Miller's life and career. The photographs and documents bear witness to Miller's life as a photojournalist, writer, musician, soldier, and burgeoning civil rights activist. While his death was tragic, ending a life of unlimited potential, the preservation of his collection is a small miracle. Boston Public Library is proud to have played a role in preserving the collection and sharing it with the wider world.

Critical funding to support long-term preservation of and enhanced public access to Boston Public Library collections, including this one, was provided by the Associates of the Boston Public Library.

Locations in this Collection: