Perry Miller

Perry Miller ( born February 25, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois; † 9 December 1963 Cambridge, Massachusetts ) was an American historian and literary scholar. He was one of the founders of American Studies as an independent academic discipline.

1923 Miller broke even in his first year, his studies at the University of Chicago from and decided on a vagabond life. After an odyssey through the United States, he landed on board an oil tanker in the Belgian Congo, where by his own account in an epiphanic moment revealed to him his life's work: it should detect the origins of the American character and, starting with the New England Puritans. Then he returned to his alma mater, where he received his degree in 1928. He continued his research at Harvard University, where he received his doctorate in 1931. From 1931 until his death he taught there as well.

Miller wrote mainly about the New England Puritans and the continuity of their rhetoric and mindset about at the transcendentalists of the 19th century or even in Herman Melville. In 1966, he was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize in the category of history for his unfinished work retarded Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War, a comprehensive intellectual history of the United States. He also wrote biographies of Jonathan Edwards and Roger Williams.


  • Orthodoxy in Massachusetts, 1630-1650, 1933
  • The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century, 1939
  • Jonathan Edwards, 1949
  • The New England Mind: From Colony to Province, 1953
  • Errand into the Wilderness, 1956
  • The American Transcendentalists, Their Prose and Poetry, 1957
  • The Raven and the Whale: Poe, Melville, and the New York Literary Scene, 1957
  • The Legal Mind in America: from Independence to the Civil War, 1961
  • Life of the Mind in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War, 1965

Secondary literature

  • Murray G. Murphey: Perry Miller and American Studies. In: American Studies 42:2, 2001, pp. 5-18. .
  • Americanist
  • Nonfiction author
  • Pulitzer Prize winner
  • Americans
  • Born 1905
  • Died in 1963
  • Man