Miller, Hope Simon - Oral History Interview
Miller, Hope Simon
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What originally brought Hope Simon Miller to SAIS was seeing an ad in the New York Times that said that this new school was being formed with money from big business as well as government funds and as it sounded like a splendid partnership, she decided to apply for a fellowship. Prior to attending SAIS, she attended the Calhoun School and then Barnard College as an undergraduate. There, one could specialize in an area of the world of that person’s choice, and Miller chose the Soviet Union and Near East. Incidentally, Miller had originally wanted to go to Wellesley College (wanted to get away from home), but she (and others) was refused on a religious basis and that had caused articles to be printed in several well known newspapers in the country (i.e. the Atlantic Monthly). She was told that if she got good marks, she could transfer….which she did, but they still did not take her. In what she thought would be her last year at Barnard (before transferring), she decided to get heavily involved in everything….she stood at the opera, stood in Carnegie Hall (for concerts before Lincoln Center existed), etc. At the end of the year, she liked New York and therefore decided to stay at Barnard. Also, war broke out and no one had dates then, but because Columbia was there, we had dates from the Mitchell School. While at SAIS, Miller recalls there being about 30 students of which roughly 12 were women. Most students lived in the dorm. She and three other women lived on the same floor as the men, which she says was a lot of fun and was unusual for the time. Also, C. Grove Hanes, the professor who started the Bologna Center, lived right across the hall. She was impressed by the faculty and remembers having class sometime at 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. One time, she remembers having to have class early because a certain professor had to catch an early flight to New York to deal with a UN issue related to Iran and oil. She liked that they were always getting the most recent / updated news. Miller recalls there being a rigorous language program while she was at SAIS, requiring students to have a working knowledge of four languages while they were there. She learned English, French, Russian and Spanish. When she graduated from SAIS in 1946, she thought she would work at the State Department. She was invited to a reception being held at the Wildenstein Art Galleries in New York. At this reception, she ran into a gentleman who asked if she would be interested in working with him – he worked for the UN on human rights issues. She agreed and then worked with him for three or four years. Next, she met and married her husband, a gynecologist, Arthur Miller, and they moved to Brooklyn. The commute was not easy. She soon got pregnant with her first son, Lane Miller (who later became a student at SAIS). At that time, she worked at home, editing papers for the assistant or under secretary general. Eventually, she went back to the UN (hospitality committee) once her youngest of three sons was able to go to school by himself. She is still heavily involved with the UN. In her career, she mostly got involved on the subject of women and children. She worked for UNICEF on related projects for several years. Part of this involved working with the mothers of these children on a project called UNIFEM. Eventually, UNIFEM became a part of UN WOMEN (currently run by the former U.S. Ambassador to Chile). In life, Miller also remembers meeting high ranked figures like Hillary Clinton, Madeline Albright and Eleanor Roosevelt at different times in her life. She met Eleanor Roosevelt when she was in college. Every Tuesday, there was an assembly in the gym where they would try to have a notable speaker come for a presentation. As the dean of Barnard was good friends with Eleanor Roosevelt at the time, she was asked and willing to come be a speaker one day. Eight of them had lunch in the dean’s apartment and Miller got to sit next to Eleanor Roosevelt. Later, when Hillary Clinton was at the White House (as First Lady), she and Madeline Albright had invited 100 outstanding women to the White House. They both addressed the group….that was exciting and they took lots of pictures. Miller also had a chance separately honor Hillary Clinton and Madeline Albright at two other separate occasions. In her career, Miller travelled every two years for UNICEM. She recalls being in Moscow, Barcelona, Manila and Beijing. She thought it was absolutely fascinating and made wonderful friends. No one country stood out for her – they were all great. Today, Miller is still very active in her work. In terms of advice for current students, she recommends having strong language skills (and to be bi-lingual if at all possible). She also thinks that the internship program is very important for students and that they should take full advantage of it. On a personal note, Miller has been living in NYC for decades. She is still married to her husband, Arthur (now 92) and had three sons, Lane, Scott and Lloyd. Several years ago, Scott passed away from a condition he had had since he was young (growth of benign tumors in his body of which one later became malignant). Both Lane and Lloyd are married. Lloyd has a daughter and Lane is married to Anne Lyons who is of Native American decent (significant as they are both lawyers who work on Native American cases). Miller also had a 93 year old brother who passed away earlier this year.