Guide to the Reverend Wendell L. Miller Collection, 1926-1988

Special Collections & Archives

Oviatt Library

California State University, Northridge
18111 Nordhoff St.
Northridge, CA 91330
URL: http://library.csun.edu/SCA
Email: oviattsca@csun.edu
Phone: (818) 677-2832
Fax: (818) 677-2589
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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.

Collection Contents

 

Series I: Citizens Independent Vice Investigating Committee (C.I.V.I.C) Files, 1936-1967

Box 1, Folder 1

American Legion, 17th District, Los Angeles: address, "Stalin and Clinton Over Los Angeles", 1940 July 19

Box 1, Folder 2

Bowron, Fletcher (Mayor): correspondence, 1937-1967

Box 1, Folder 3

Bowron for Mayor Committee (Carl C. Hoskin, Chairman): correspondence, September 1935, November-December 1939

Box 1, Folder 4

Briegleb, Gustav A. ( Seen' Things, Radio Broadcast): correspondence, April-May 1939

Box 1, Folder 5

Briegleb, Gustav A. ( Seen' Things, Radio Broadcast): KGER radio address, 1937 May 1

Box 1, Folder 6

The Church Layman's Committee for Good Government: correspondence, 1937 April 29, September 1938

Box 1, Folder 7

C.I.V.I.V.: "Big Shots of C.I.V.I.C.," Los Angeles Equalizeri , (reprint), September 1937

Box 1, Folder 8

C.I.V.I.C.: "Face the Facts," pamphlet

Box 1, Folder 9

C.I.V.I.C. - Clearing House Committee: Report #5 - Anti-vice Strategy!

Box 1, Folder 10

The CIVIC Committee: news release regarding Mayor Fletcher Bowron

Box 1, Folder 11

"The CIVIC Committee Looks Ahead: A New Five Year Program," pamphlet, April 1942

Box 1, Folder 12

The CIVIC Committee: news release regarding CIVIC Supports Clifford E. Clinton for Mayor of Los Angeles, 1945 March 20

Box 1, Folder 13

Clinton, Clifford E., (CIVIC Chairman): correspondence, 1938 December 15

Box 1, Folder 14

Clinton, Clifford E.: "Bombing the Lid Off Los Angeles!" Parts 1 and 2, Official Detective Stories, 1938 May 25

Box 1, Folder 15

Clinton, Clifford E.: "Clifton' Food Poison Probe Believed Recall Motive," Los Angeles Progressive Digest , 1938 April 4

Box 1, Folder 16

Clinton, Clifford E.: "Reasons for Recall of Mayor Frank L. Shaw," flyer; pamphlet, February 1938

Box 1, Folder 17

Clinton, Clifford E.: "The Truth Will Set You Free," flyer

Box 1, Folder 18

Clinton, Clifford E. - Organizing Committee of Workers in Clifton Cafeterias: "An Appeal From the Workers in Clifton's Cafeterias to the Liberals of Los Angeles", 1938 March 29

Box 1, Folder 19

Ferguson, Harry L. (CIVIC, Secretary/Treasurer.): correspondence, March-June 1942

Box 1, Folder 20

Fitts, Buron (District Attorney): campaign pamphlets, ca. 1938

Box 1, Folder 21

Fitts, Buron (District Attorney): correspondence, 1936 October 24

Box 1, Folder 22

The Friends of the Truth League: "Frank L. Shaw for Mayor of Los Angeles," editorial

Box 1, Folder 23

Gambling and Vice: newspaper clippings, 1938

Box 1, Folder 24

Grand Jury-County of Los Angeles: correspondence, January 1937-August 1940

Box 1, Folder 25

Grand Jury-County of Los Angeles: membership list; Minority Reports (summary)

Box 1, Folder 26

Grand Jury-County of Los Angeles: resolution

Box 1, Folder 27

Grand Juries Are Grand: reprint, 1937

Box 1, Folder 28

Houses of Gambling and Prostitution: address lists

Box 1, Folder 29

Houses of Gambling and Prostitution: complaint letters, September 1935-January 1937

Box 1, Folder 30

Houses of Gambling and Prositution: complaint letters, July 1937-August 1938

Box 1, Folder 31

Houses of Gambling and Prostitution: "Los Angeles Americas Wickedest City," Look Magazine, 1936 September 26

Box 1, Folder 32

Houses of Gambling and Prostitution: "Santa Anita Handicap Days," Los Angeles Times advertisement, 1938 February 7

Box 1, Folder 33

KFWB Radio: address, 1937 October 17

Box 1, Folder 34

KFVD Radio: address, 1937 December 8

Box 1, Folder 35

Miller, Rev. Wendell: correspondence (outgoing), November-December 1937

Box 1, Folder 36

Miller, Rev. Wendell: correspondence, 1938 December 8

Box 1, Folder 37

Miller, Rev. Wendell: notes

Box 1, Folder 38

SB 878 - dog Racing Measure: analysis, ca. 1939

Box 1, Folder 39

Shaw, Frank L. (Mayor): "Bowron's Backers Exposed," Los Angeles Club Reporter , 1938 September 15

Box 1, Folder 40

Shaw, Frank L. (Mayor): "Fundamentally," Hollywood Citizen news (reprint), 1937 July 10

Box 1, Folder 41

Shaw, Frank L. (Mayor): DFWB Radio address, 1938 September 7

Box 1, Folder 42

Shaw, Frank L., (Mayor): "Recall of Recovery," Highland Park Post Dispatch, 1938 December 8

Box 1, Folder 43

Vigilantes of America: correspondence, 1937 June 24

 

Series II: Japanese Internment Files, 1942-1943

Box 1, Folder 44

Japanese Internment: correspondence; newspaper clippings, April-June 1942

Box 1, Folder 45

Japanese Internment: newspaper clippings

Box 1, Folder 46

Japanese Internment: correspondence (from Japanese friends), May-October 1942

Box 1, Folder 47

Japanese - War: "When Japan Attacks," First Congregational Church program, 1943 June 20

 

Series III: Political and Religious Activity Files, 1937-1961

Box 1, Folder 48

American Committee for Peace Through Democracy: special bulletin

Box 1, Folder 49

The Fellowship of Reconcilliation: "Six Churchment Speak on the H'Bomb" (reprint), 1950

Box 1, Folder 50

Ford, John Anson (Candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles - 1937): "Reds' Back Anson Ford," Police Patrol, 1937 March 1

Box 1, Folder 51

Manhattan Beach Community Church: report, January 1961

Box 1, Folder 52

Methodist Episcopal Church - The Board of Home Missions (Philadelphia, Pa.): correspondence

Box 1, Folder 53

Russian War Relief, Inc.: correspondence; proclamation, 1942 June 15, 17

Box 1, Folder 54

Labor - Bricklayers and Stone Masons, Local Union No. 2: program, 1951

Box 1, Folder 55

Laobr - The Christian American Crusade: announcement; bulletin regarding Labor/Communism

Box 1, Folder 56

Labor - Communist Party - Los Angeles County Committee: "Make Los Angeles a Union Town," pamphlet

Box 1, Folder 57

Labor - Proposition No. 1: broadside regarding anti-Picketing measure, 1938 September 16

Box 1, Folder 58

Labor - Proposition No. 1: "Hot Cargo, Secondary Boycotts," pamphlets, 1942

Box 1, Folder 59

Labor - Proposition No. 9: "Let's Drive the Blues Away-Vote No," United California Industries; pamphlet

Box 1, Folder 60

Labor - Southern Californians, Inc.: correspondence, 1940 January 8

 

Series IV: Non-Manuscript Material, 1928-1988

Box 2, Folder 1

Miller, Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1928-1936

Box 2, Folder 2

Miller, Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1937

Box 2, Folder 3

Miller- Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1938

Box 2, Folder 4

Miller, Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1939-1941

Box 2, Folder 5

Miller, Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1942-1945

Box 2, Folder 6

Miller, Rev. Wendell: Scrapbook, 1950-1988

Box 3, Item 1

Gambling and Crime: Clover Gambling Joint-Keep Chicago Out of Hollywood, photograph

Box 3, Item 2

Anti-War Campaign: Billions for Armaments - How Much for Peace? Peace Bench at Florence Avenue Methodist Church, photograph

Box 3, Item 3

Anti-War Campaign: Truth is the First Casualty of War. 777 Class Kagawa League of Florence Avenue Methodist Church, photograph, 1933

Box 3, Item 4

Anti-War Campaign: War is a Crime Against Humanity. Epworth League of Florence Avenue Methodist Church, photograph

Box 3, Item 5

Anti-War Campaign: We Died in Vain-Unless You Fight to Abolish War? Truck Sign, Grave and Crosses, photograph

Flat File Cabinet 3, Folder 1, Item 1

"Los Angeles, America's Wickedest City," Look, 1939 September 26

Flat File Cabinet 3, Folder 1, Item 2

"Bowron's Backers Exposed," The Los Angeles Club Reporter , Vol. 1 No. 8, 1938 September 15

Flat File Cabinet 3, Folder 1, Item 3

"Recall or Recovery?" Advertisement, The Highland Park Post Dispatch , 1938 September 9

Flat File Cabinet 3, Folder 1, Item 4

"Big Shots of The C.I.V.I.C." The Equalizer , September 1937