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Helen King Boyer Collection

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS257

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Helen King Boyer Collection includes the personal papers of Zachariah T. Miller (1847-1913), who was attached to the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment under General Carl Schurz during the American Civil War and later practiced homeopathic medicine in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; his daughter Louise Miller Boyer (1890-1976), a noted artist and pioneer screenwriter at Metro Pictures Corporation in the New York City film industry in 1918; his granddaughter Helen King Boyer (b. 1919), another renowned artist; and other family members. The Helen King Boyer Collection is preserved in 16 archival boxes (24.0 linear feet).

Of particular note, the collection contains more than 130 substantive Civil War letters from Z. T. Miller to his family, over 250 letters from concert pianist Julie Rive-King (1854-1937), and the diaries of Helen King Boyer. Significant correspondents include John Taylor Arms, Nathaniel B. Boileau (1763-1850), John A. Brashear, and Elbert Hubbard. More than 1000 photographs in the collection provide extensive visual documentation of this distinguished family's history.

The portion of the Helen King Boyer Collection relating to Z. T. Miller thoroughly chronicles his Civil War experiences and his postwar medical career. Miller's 130 letters to his family, dated 1862 to 1864, trace his unit, the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry, as it moves from training in Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, to the Virginia theater of war in places such as Moorefield, Fairfax Court House, Centreville, and Stafford Court House; and then to the Atlanta campaign. Moreover, his diaries offer additional details to his already thorough letters. The letters and diaries are preserved in original, transcript, and photocopy forms. Fascinating information about Carl Schurz is available among these documents. A unique item is a rare published regimental newspaper, "The Sixty-First Ohio" (Vol. 1 No. 1), edited by the members of the 61st Ohio and dated Moorefield, Virginia, 14 June 1862. Later, Z. T. Miller went on to become a homeopathic physician, and the collection contains correspondence, manuscripts, speeches, and printed material on the medical phase of his career. Many photographs of Miller, including some from his Civil War days, are preserved.

Documents pertaining to Louise Miller Boyer are also found in the Boyer Collection. Louise's letters to her husband in 1918 discuss her experiences as a screenwriter for Metro Pictures Corporation. In addition, Louise's correspondence with Dorothy Arms, John Taylor Arms, and John A. Brashear, among others, is retained. Manuscripts by Louise and photographs of her are plentiful. Files on Louise's husband, Ernest W. Boyer (1885-1949), are also of part of the family papers. Of interest are his letters to his wife, articles, drawings, and photographs. Ernest's photographs from the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and the Panama-Pacific Exposition are especially noteworthy.

Helen King Boyer's correspondence, manuscripts, diaries, art work, and photographs are also found in the Boyer Collection.

Many other significant individuals count themselves among the Boyer family. Accordingly, the papers contain a wealth of documents by and about Julie Rive-King, including correspondence, photographs, and sheet music. A series of letters to and from Nathaniel B. Boileau is included. Furthermore, some items relate to Louise Klein Miller.

As a whole, the Helen King Boyer Collection provides scholars of American history and American art with an impressive documentary and visual record of the lives and achievements of several notable figures. The Georgetown University Fine Prints Collection and the Georgetown University Art Collection, both of which are also housed in the Georgetown University Library Special Collections Division, contain many prints and visual art materials created by or related to Helen King Boyer, Louise Miller Boyer, Ernest W. Boyer, and other Boyer relatives.

SERIES SYNOPSIS: The Helen King Boyer Collection is arranged into 19 series as described below. SERIES 1 - Z. T. Miller Civil War Letters. Arranged chronologically. SERIES 2 - Z. T. Miller Civil War Documents. Arranged chronologically. SERIES 3 - Z. T. Miller Correspondence. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. SERIES 4 - Z. T. Miller Manuscripts. Arranged alphabetically by type of document. SERIES 5 - Z. T. Miller Printed Material. Arranged chronologically. SERIES 6 - Ernest W. Boyer Materials. SERIES 7 - Louise Miller Boyer Incoming Correspondence. Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. SERIES 8 - Louise Miller Boyer Outgoing Correspondence. Arranged chronologically. SERIES 9 - Louise Miller Boyer - New York Letters (1918). Arranged chronologically. SERIES 10 - Louise Miller Boyer Manuscripts. SERIES 11 - Julie Rive-King Materials. Chronological correspondence appears first, followed by printed matter. SERIES 12 - Nathaniel B. Boileau Correspondence. Chronological correspondence from Boileau is placed first, then chronological correspondence to Boileau. SERIES 13 - Helen King Boyer Materials. Correspondence appears first, next manuscripts, then art work, and finally printed matter. SERIES 14 - Other Boyer Relatives Materials. Arranged alphabetically by last name of family member. SERIES 15 - Printed Matter. Arranged alphabetically. SERIES 16 - Helen King Boyer Diaries. Arranged chronologically. SERIES 17 - Photographs. Arranged alphabetically by individual/subject. SERIES 18 - Oversized Objects. SERIES 19 - Oversized Documents and Photographs. Box 13 contains oversized materials on Z. T. Miller, Boxes 14 and 15 on Julie-Rive-King, and Box 16 on other family members, including Ernest W. Boyer and Louise Miller Boyer.

ABBREVIATIONS: ACS - Autograph Card Signed. ADS - Autograph Document Signed. AL - Autograph Letter. ALS - Autograph Letter Signed. AM - Autograph Manuscript. ANS - Autograph Note Signed. TCS - Typed Card Signed. TLS - Typed Letter Signed. TL - Typed Letter. TM - Typed Manuscript.


  • 1800 - 2001
  • Majority of material found within 1860 - 1976

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical notes

Born in Miamisburg, Ohio, Z. T. Miller (1847-1913) entered the Union army at age 15 as a musician early in the American Civil War. Becoming attached to the 61st Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment, he participated in training at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio; in the Virginia theater of war in places such as Moorefield, Fairfax Court House, Stafford Court, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville; in the march towards Gettysburg; and in the Atlanta campaign. For a time during the war, Miller was a clerk for General Carl Schurz. After the war, Miller became a telegraph operator, working in Dayton, Ohio and then Cleveland, Ohio. In 1873, he married Katherine (Kate) King. Embarking upon a medical career, Miller received homeopathic medical training in the New York Medical College and the Philadelphia Medical College. He worked for more than 30 years as a homeopathic physician in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he was part of the faculty of the school of applied design at Carnegie Institute of Technology. (Source: Newspaper obituary of Z. T. Miller, Helen King Boyer Collection: Box 11 Folder 3, Georgetown University Library, Special Collections Division).

Artist and designer Louise Rive-King Miller Boyer (1890-1976), was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on October 30, 1890, the daughter of Z. T. Miller and Katherine (King) Miller. Painting as early as age seven, she eventually received a Bachelor of Arts from Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1913. On January 22, 1914, she married architect Ernest Wilson Boyer, with whom she had two children: Boeing engineer Taylor Miller Boyer and artist Helen King Boyer. In 1918, Louise worked as a screenwriter for Metro Pictures Corporation in New York City. She became a free lance designer and graphic artist. Her work was preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Carnegie Institute, the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, and the Library of Congress, among other places. She was a member of the Society of American Graphic Artists and the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh and served as a trustee for the Charles and Martin Leisser Fund. Louise M. Boyer died on December 6, 1976, at age 86. (Sources: "Who's Who of American Women," and "Who Was Who in American Art.")

Architect Ernest W. Boyer (1885-1949) was a native of Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. He became associated with the Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Pittsburgh Board of Education. He planned and designed many buildings in the region of Pittsburgh, including the South Hills Country Club and his former home in Brentwood. In addition, he designed some structures in other parts of the country. Of note, Boyer designed the Pennsylvania Building at the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1914. He was for a long time secretary of the Pittsburgh Architectural Club and member of the American Institute of Architects. Ernest W. Boyer died at age 64 in 1949. [Sources: Obituary, Pittsburgh "Sun-Telegraph," 18 April 1949 (Boyer Collection: Box 7 Folder 32), Obituary, Pittsburgh "Free Press," 18 April 1949 (Boyer Collection: Box 11 Folder 29)].

American concert pianist, teacher, and composer, Julie Rive-King (1854-1937) was born on October 30, 1854, in Cincinnati, Ohio. After receiving primary instruction from her mother, she studied with William Mason in New York and then with Reinecke in Leipzig. For a time she studied with Liszt. At her American debut on April 24, 1875, she performed Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic. A prolific musician, she gave some 4000 concerts and taught piano at Bush Conservatory in Chicago from 1905 to 1936. She married Frank King of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1876. Her piano pieces include "Impromptu," "Polonaise Heroique," and "Bubbling Springs." Julie Rive-King died on July 24, 1937. [Sources: "Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians," 8th ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), p. 1520, M. Petteys, "Julie Rive-King: American Pianist" (Ph.D. Diss., Univ. of Missouri, 1987), "American National Biography." 24 vols. (New York: Oxford U. Press, 1999), p. 562-563.]

Nathaniel B. Boileau (1763-1850), public official, attorney, radical Jeffersonian, and farmer, was born in Moreland Township in the part of Philadelphia County that is now Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. His father, Isaac Billew, owned land in the vicinity of Hatboro. In 1781, upon turning age 18, Nathaniel volunteered for a Philadelphia County militia group, serving until the defeat of Cornwallis. He graduated from Princeton College. After studying law and being admitted to the bar, Boileau practiced law in Montgomery County. He won a seat in the Pennsylvania House in 1797 and served there off and on throughout the first decade of the 1800s, eventually becoming speaker. His 1807 bid for election as a U.S. Senator failed. In 1808, 1811, and 1814, he was named Secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but his candidacy for the state's governorship failed in 1817. [Source: Woodward, Ruth L., and Craven, Wesley Frank. "Princetonians: 1784-1970, A Biographical Dictionary" (Princeton U. Press, 1991), p. 335-349].

Artist and designer Helen King Boyer (b. 1919), daughter of Ernest W. Boyer and Louise Rive-King (Miller) Boyer was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she was educated privately in fine arts and crafts. From 1943 to 1945, she worked for the advertising-art department of the Pittsburgh "Sun-Telegraph." From 1949 to 1954, she was a freelance designer. For decades thereafter she designed home patterns, toys, and art, and her works are represented in many permanent collections, including the Pennell Fund, the Library of Congress, the Carnegie Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Georgetown University Fine Prints Collection, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City. She has been a member of numerous art organizations and the recipient of many art prizes.


25 Linear Feet (18 boxes)

Language of Materials


Helen King Boyer Collection
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Washington, D.C.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057