Charles C. Miller Memorial Apicultural Collection: How It Came to Bee

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The Charles C. Miller Apicultural Collection has an interesting history both in terms of its inspirational namesake and in how it came to be located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Born in Pennsylvania in 1831, Charles C. Miller was a doctor, teacher, beekeeper, author, organizer of beekeeping associations and beloved adviser to generations of beekeepers. So devoted were his admirers that following his death in 1920 they literally pooled their honey money to build what would become one of the largest collections of beekeeping literature in the world. Many applications for the honor of housing the collection were made by university libraries throughout the country. In 1922 the University of Wisconsin-Madison was awarded the gift of $1,957.53” to be used for the maintenance of a beekeeping library as a memorial to Dr. Miller.” A small endowment continues to fund additions to the collection which has grown to approximately 6,000 volumes. Originally housed in Steenbock Memorial Library, the university’s agricultural library, most of the collection has been transferred to the Department of Special Collections. Some of the monographs have been digitized through Google/Hathitrust and a recent CRL/USAIN award is providing seed money to fund the digitization of some of the rare periodicals. The Charles C. Miller Collection remains critical for research in the history of apiculture, the technology of honey production, and the heritage of beekeeping. Recognition of the importance of bees in pollination and the recent devastating phenomenon of colony collapse disorder have spurred a resurgence of interest in honeybees and beekeeping. Careful stewardship will ensure the Miller collection will be available for generations to come.
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Beekeeping; Libraries; Collection Development; Apiculture
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