August 2015 Convention
Washington, D.C.

Dayton C. Miller: Patron Saint of Flute Research

Nancy Toff

photo by Brian Covington

Dayton C. Miller, the “Patron Saint of Flute Research,” as he was dubbed in the Thursday afternoon lecture about him, was introduced to us by our own patron saint of flute history research—Nancy Toff. Those who might have considered the man whose massive collection is housed at the Library of Congress to be some introverted, bookish collector obsessed with flutes and flute paraphernalia (sporting, perhaps, thick glasses and an old, checkered jacket) were, as it happens, correct regarding exactly one of those notions: he was an obsessed collector. Beyond that, however, as Toff explained to us with her usual dry wit and rigorously researched visual aides, he was a gifted physicist and professor with a healthy ego (large enough to challenge Albert Einstein’s findings about space matter) and significant inventions, including early renditions of what became the oscilloscope. Toff’s handout, with a comprehensive listing of resources, serves as a generous consolation prize to those unable to join her for this session.

Nancy Toff shared visuals and anecdotes in her presentation on Miller.

photo by Brian Covington

—Anne Welsbacher