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Guide to the Reverend Wendell L. Miller Collection, 1926-1988
URB/WLM  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Overview of the Collection
  • Biographical Information:
  • Access Terms
  • Administrative Information
  • Arrangement of Materials:
  • Scope and Contents

  • Overview of the Collection

    Collection Title: Reverend Wendell L. Miller Collection
    Dates: 1926-1988
    Bulk Dates: 1935-1961
    Identification: URB/WLM
    Creator: Miller, Wendell L., 1902-1999
    Physical Description: 1.06 linear feet
    Language of Materials: English
    Repository: Urban Archives
    Abstract: Reverend Wendell L. Miller was pastor of the University Methodist Church, Los Angeles. He became involved in local politics when gambling and prostitution began edging toward the area surrounding the University of Southern California (USC) campus. Miller founded the Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C.), which also campaigned against crime and corruption in City Hall, ultimately resulting in the recall of Mayor Frank L. Shaw. The collection documents Miller's involvement with C.I.V.I.C., and includes announcements, bulletins, correspondence, newspaper clippings, news releases, pamphlets, radio addresses, speeches, statements, and related items. There is also a small amount of material documenting Rev. Miller’s anti-war activities including letters from Japanese Americans sent to internment camps during World War II.

    Biographical Information:

    Reverend Wendell L. Miller, pastor of the University Methodist Church, Los Angeles, was born in Albian, Nebraska on April 16, 1902. After graduating from Albian High School, Miller attended Nebraska Wesleyan University, graduating in 1927, with an A.B. degree in Psychology. Miller and his wife, Thelma, moved to Los Angeles when Miller enrolled in an M.A. program at the University of Southern California. He graduated in 1932, and his first ministry was in Los Angeles Harbor where he worked to serve the needs of unemployed dock workers.
    In 1937, Miller became involved in Los Angeles politics as gambling and prostitution began edging toward the USC campus community. At the behest of several parishioners, Miller began holding community-wide meetings, and founded the Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C.). Clifford Clinton, owner of Clifton’s Cafeteria, became the financial backer and first chairman of the Committee.
    Gaining major attention from the mayor’s office, the police department, and organized crime, the organization stepped up its publicity campaign against crime and corruption in City Hall. When Mayor Frank L. Shaw denied publicly that houses of prostitution and gambling were a major problem in the city, the organization quickly began a recall campaign to oust the mayor and his friends. The recall was successful and several members of C.I.V.I.C., including Miller, convinced Judge Fletcher Bowron to run for mayor. Shortly after Bowron's successful mayoral campaign, C.I.V.I.C. ended its activities.
    In 1954, Miller left University Church to begin a lecturing career in adult education, and a new ministry at Manhattan Beach Community Church which lasted twelve years. During his ministry at Community Church, Miller caught the attention of local members of the John Birch Society. In the early 1960s, the Birch Society published a pamphlet listing Miller as a communist along with such notable figures as Eleanor Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Margaret Mead.
    Miller left Manhattan Beach in 1967, and settled in Palos Verdes. He became the Minister of Visitation of his local church until his retirement. Reverend Wendell L. Miller died at the age of 97 on November 9, 1999.

    Access Terms

    This Collection is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

    Genre/Form of Material:

    Audio recordings
    Paper records
    Photographic material
    Publications
    Scrapbooks

    Administrative Information

    Processing Information:

    Robert. G. Marshall and Thomas L. Davis, 1996

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has been transferred to California State University, Northridge. Copyright status for other materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item], [date], Reverend Wendell L. Miller Collection , Special Collections and Archives, Oviatt Library, California State University, Northridge.

    Related Materials:

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C) Files, 1936-1967
    Series II: Japanese Internment Files, 1942-1943
    Series III:  Political and Religious Activity Files, 1937-1961
    Series IV: Non-Manuscript Material, 1928-1988

    Scope and Contents

    The Reverend Wendell L. Miller Collection documents Miller's career, including his early days as a minister in Harbor City, his time as minister of the University Methodist Church at the University of Southern California, and his work at the Manhattan Beach Community Church. The collection also documents Miller's involvement with the Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C.), founded in the late 1930s to prevent the spread of gambling and prostitution in Los Angeles. Miller's anti-war activities are also documented. The collection includes announcements, bulletins, correspondence, newspaper clippings, news releases, pamphlets, radio addresses, speeches, statements, and related items. It consists of four series: Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee Files (1936-1967), Japanese Internment Files (1942-1943), Political and Religious Activity Files (1937-1961), and Non-Manuscript Material (1928-1988).
    Series I, Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C.) Files, documents C.I.V.I.C.'s campaign to end political corruption, gambling, and prostitution in Los Angeles in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and includes documentation of charges of communism leveled against Clifford Clinton, C.I.V.I.C. Chairman and an outspoken reformist with whom Miller worked closely. The series also documents the 1938 recall campaign against Mayor Frank L. Shaw, and the campaign of Mayor Fletcher Bowron. It consists of advertisements, correspondence, editorials, flyers, lists of prostitution houses, newspaper clippings, news releases, pamphlets, radio addresses, and statements, and is arranged alphabetically.
    Series II, Japanese Internment Files, contains correspondence and newspaper clippings documenting Miller's involvement with relocated Japanese Americans during World War II. It includes letters condemning Miller and other members of his church for assisting Japanese Americans en route to various internment camps, as well as letters from Japanese Americans thanking Miller for his support and camp visits . The series is arranged chronologically.
    Series III, Political and Religious Activity Files, documents Miller's political work, labor reform efforts, anti-war interests, and church activities. It includes a pamphlet from 1950 in which Miller and five other religious leaders wrote about the hydrogen bomb's implications, and a 1961 document titled "A Report on the Manhattan Beach Community Church" that accuses Miller and others of being radical communists. The series includes bulletins, correspondence, pamphlets, reports, and propositions, and is arranged alphabetically.
    Series IV, Non-Manuscript Material, includes Miller's scrapbook of news articles, correspondence, pamphlets, portraits, advertisements, and religious work from throughout his life and career. The series also contains several photos from anti-war campaigns during World War II, and some oversized posters and news articles.