A little more than a year ago, I was invited to the home of retired director of libraries at Florida International University, Dr. Laurence Miller, where associate librarian Nicholas Blaga and I were graciously entertained with a delicious lunch prepared by his wife Carole. Before sitting down to eat, we had the opportunity to look over the incredible collection of cruise line industry promotional materials that Dr. Miller had amassed over the last fifty years. The Wolfsonian library’s own holdings of ocean liner materials for the interwar period are quite substantial, but we could not help but be impressed by the scope and breadth of Dr. Miller’s collection of post-war cruise materials. You can imagine our delight when he expressed his intent to donate the more than 10,000 items to our rare books and special collections library.

Now as we have begun the overwhelming job of processing and cataloging this incredible gift, we must once again acknowledge Dr. Miller’s generosity—this time with his expertise and time. This summer and fall, Dr. Miller has been coming to the library three days a week helping us to organize, catalog, and make this invaluable collection available to the public via our Web Opac. “It has been fun seeing again the deck plans, brochures, and menus that I have not handled in years,” notes Dr. Miller, “and I am pleased to know that digital images of the same will bring to a new generation of aficionados details of ships they have likely never seen.”

While it will take us some time to get the entire collection cataloged, Dr. Miller and our small but committed cadre of interns and volunteers have created records for a substantial portion of the promotional materials. Additionally, our digital library technician, David Almeida has scanned a few sample items from each of the shipping companies thus far cataloged in order to whet the appetite of the public and interested scholars. These can be viewed on our online catalog:

To access the collection, simply type in the keywords: “Laurence Miller promotional”

~ by "The Chief" on October 1, 2009.

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