Oral history interview with Foil A. Miller

Oral history interview with Foil A. Miller

  • 2001-May-23 (First session)
  • 2011-Jun-28 (Second session)

Foil A. Miller begins the interview by describing the origins of the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy [Pittcon]. Miller was involved early on with Pittcon and its two founding groups, the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh. In the 1950s, Pittsburgh had an active community of both academics and people from industry, which contributed to the success of Pittcon. Although the emphasis of the conference has evolved over time and reflects changes in the fields, it possesses a strong institutional history that allows for smooth transitions in leadership and administration. Miller outlines some of the changes in the field of instrumentation that he has observed during the course of his career and reflects on some of the key individuals in instrument entrepreneurship. Although Miller first came to Pittsburgh to work at the Mellon Institute, he soon moved to the University of Pittsburgh where he taught in the chemistry department until his retirement at age sixty-five. After retirement, Miller indulged his love of travel and developed an interest in stamp collecting, particularly stamps relating to physics and chemistry. He co-authored a book on these stamps with Edgar Heilbronner and is the editor of Philatelia Chimica et Physica, a newsletter about the subject.

Revisited ten years after the first interview, the newer interview has a slightly different—slightly more personal—focus, beginning with Miller’s family background and continuing with a short précis of his growing up and selection of chemistry, especially spectroscopy, as a career.

Place of interview
Original file type PDF, MP3
  • 70 pages
Rights In Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Rights holder
  • Science History Institute
Related URL
Credit line
  • Courtesy of Science History Institute

Physical location


Cite as

Foil A. Miller, interviewed by John B. Sharkey in Glenview (Cook County), Illinois on June 28, 2011. Philadelphia: Science History Institute, n.d. Oral History Transcript 0220. https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/z316q2624.

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Transcript (Published Version)

The published version of the transcript may diverge from the interview audio due to edits to the transcript made by staff of the Center for Oral History, often at the request of the interviewee, during the transcript review process.

Complete Interview Audio File Web-quality download

5 Separate Interview Segments Archival-quality downloads