Voldemar Miller (Voldemar Karl Miller 7 February / 25 January 1911 – 26 April 2006) was an archivist, researcher of local and book history and children’s writer.
Miller was born and attended school in Saaremaa Island and studied history at the University of Tartu. In 1946, he completed courses for chiefs of archives in Moscow. He worked in unskilled jobs and in 1934-1935 was a freelance journalist, proof-reader and reporter for the newspapers Vaba Sõna and Uus Sõna. From 1937–1944 he was an archivist and assistant at the National Archives of Estonia in Tartu. When drafted into the German army, he was an accountant at the Estonian training battalion, 1944–1950 chief of the Central State Historical Archives of the Estonian SSR, 1950–1952 a miner in Virumaa County, 1952–1977 employee, later head of the Baltica and Rare Books Department at the Library of the Academy of Sciences of the Estonian SSR. From 1978–1996, he worked at the State Library of the Estonian SSR (the later National Library of Estonia). From 1963, he supervised the local history research club at Tallinn City Museum and belonged to the local history research committee at the Academy of Sciences. He was a member of the Estonian Writers’ Union (since 1995), the Mother Tongue Society, the Society of Estonian Areal Studies, the Estonian Heritage Protection Society and other societies. Miller was a board member of the Estonian Book Society for several times. He is buried in the Forest Cemetery (Metsakalmistu) in Tallinn.
From the mid-1930s, he published numerous academic and popular-scientific treatments on history, cultural and literary history, research of books and local history. A selection of his articles has been published in the collection Minevikust tulevikku (‘From the Past to the Future’, 1972). He participated in compiling and writing of the books Tallinna ajalugu (‘History of Tallinn’, vol 2, 1969, 1976) and Eesti raamat 1525–1975 (‘Estonian Book 1525–1975’, 1978). He was a leading figure in celebrating the Estonian Book Year in 1975 (450 years from the publication of the first book in the Estonian language). He published the overview Esimesed eesti raamatud (‘The First Estonian Books’, 1976). It was essential for Estonian librarianship that in the 1960s Miller formulated the criteria for Baltica and rare books. His activities in salvaging of books and archival sources during the occupation years should be considered of utmost importance. Miller also contributed essentially to the research of local history. For example, he was a member of the local history research committee founded in 1958 and laid the foundation to school students’ conferences of local history research. In 1963, he was one of the founders of the local history research club at Tallinn City Museum. At his initiative, Estonian Television launched the series Majad täis mälestusi (‘Houses Full of Memories’).
From the early 1930s, Miller also published topical satires and miniatures but achieved greater recognition as an author of children’s books. His first stories were published in the magazine Täheke and in collections. Miller’s first book for children, Kiki, was published in 1966. Miller’s best-known children’s books are Merehundi jutud I–II (‘Tales of an Old Salt’, 1984, 1993; Part II was entered in the Honour List of the International Board on Books for Young People) and Tilleprintsess (‘Tiny Princess’, first place at Nukits competition in 1999). Miller’s stories for children are notable for their warmth and cordiality.
Miller has been awarded the Estonian National Culture Foundation award for his life’s work (1996), the Open Estonia Foundation award (1998), F. Puksoo award (1991), the Tallinn city badge of merit (1999) and the Order of the National Coat of Arms, class IV (1996).
A. K. (Translated by I. A.)
Books in Estonian
Books for children
Kiki. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1966, 24 lk
Merehundi jutud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1984, 64 lk
Tilleprintsess. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1989, 61 lk [järgmised trükid: 2010, 2016]
Merehundi jutud II. Tallinn: Tiritamm, 1993, 63 lk
Sõrmkübarasõdur: jutud. Tallinn: RE Stuudio, 1996, 30 lk
Konnaoja Kusti: kus on tõde, kust algab vale, teab ainult Krants. Tallinn: V. Miller, 1997, 47 lk
Kolm kanget sõpra: jutustus. Kuressaare: Tormikiri, 1999, 31 lk
Kodu kõige kallim: lugusid lastele. Koost. Jaak Urmet. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2008, 143 lk
Minevikust tulevikku: artikleid ja ettekandeid 1940-1970. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1972, 189 lk
Esimesed eesti raamatud. Tallinn: Eesti Raamat, 1976, 84 lk
Lugemiskultuurist: lugemisest vastavalt raamatule ja eesmärgile. Tallinn: ENSV Raamatuühing, 1985, 16 lk
Õpilaste kodu-uurimistööde juhendamisest. Metoodiline abimaterjal õpetajale. Tallinn: ENSV Haridusministeerium, 1986, 29 lk