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Extensive Hoosier Family Collection Lands at IHS


The story of the families is multifaceted. In many ways, the Irwin, Sweeney and Miller family members can be seen as Renaissance men and women. They gained prominence through their successful business endeavors, such as the Cummins Engine Company and the Irwin Union Bank and Trust. They also garnered much recognition for how they used their fortune to support a wide variety of local, national and international community initiatives, both individually and through the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation. The family members’ philanthropy reflected their interests in the arts, humanities, architecture and community development. At the core of this family, and perhaps the cornerstone on which all these other activities rest, is the family’s religious and spiritual interest, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). In 2001, IHS named the J. Irwin Miller family as a Living Legend in honor of their significant contributions.

The large archival collection touches on all of the family’s interests, and its scope spans from the mid-19th century to 2004. J. Irwin Miller – who was CEO and chairman of the board of Cummins, a director of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, the first lay president of the National Council of Churches and the impetus behind all the modern architecture in Columbus – has the most personal and business materials in the archive, which contains personal papers, correspondence, diaries, awards, photographs and postcards from family members. Materials from Miller’s sister, Clementine Miller Tangeman, also make up a significant portion of the collection. They cover her time with the Red Cross in Italy during World War II and her post-war philanthropic interests, including the World Foundation of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides, the Emma Willard School and music programs. Other interesting items that document the prominence of this family statewide and nationally are memorabilia from Hugh Th. Miller’s service as lieutenant governor and his U.S. Senate campaigns, and correspondence and diaries that document Zachary Taylor Sweeney’s time as the U.S. consul-general to the Ottoman Court in Turkey from 1890 to 1892.

The collection of nearly 500 boxes of archival material and its accessioning and processing is being generously underwritten by gifts from Irwin Management Company, the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation, the Cummins Foundation, Margaret Miller, Catherine Miller, Elizabeth Miller, Hugh Th. Miller and Will Miller. Their combined philanthropic support has enabled IHS to hire a full-time project archivist and acquire other resources to focus solely on processing, cataloging, rehousing, conserving and making the archive available to the public in less than two years.