Gerard Friedrich Miller
Miller, Gerard Friedrich
Born Oct. 18 (29), 1705, in Herford, Westphalia; died Oct. 11 (22), 1783, in Moscow. Historian and authority on ancient texts. Member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (1731).
A German by nationality, Miller came to Russia in 1725 and learned the Russian language. In 1725 he became an adjunct, and in 1731 a professor of history, at the Academy of Sciences. From 1728 to 1730 and from 1754 to 1765 he was the academy’s conference secretary.
From 1733 to 1743, Miller was a member of the expedition to study Siberia, during the course of which he researched and described the archives of more than 20 cities, including Tobol’sk, Yakutsk, and Nerchinsk, and gathered an enormous collection of copies of documents on Russian history (the Miller Portfolios). Among these were valuable materials on the history of both Siberia (the unique Siberian chronicle of S. U. Remezov, documents on the travels of S. I. Dezhnev) and the European part of Russia (on the peasant war, on the Polish and Swedish intervention in Russia in the early 17th century). Miller also gathered extensive data on the archaeology, ethnology, and economics of Siberia.
Miller’s major works, most of which were written in German, were devoted to the history and geography of Russia from ancient times to the mid-18th century. His most important work was the History of Siberia, which covered the period up to the 1660’s (published in Russian for the first time in 1750; vol. 1 entitled Description of the Siberian Kingdom). In writing this work, Miller drew upon a wide range of sources and was one of the first in Russian historiography to subject them to intensive criticism and verification. He strongly defended the official position regarding the unification of Siberia with Russia, ignoring the negative aspects of colonization. Miller published a number of valuable sources and works, including Stepennaia Kniga (Book of Ranks), the Sudebnik (Code of Laws) of 1550 with commentaries by V. N. Tatishchev, letters from Peter I to B. P. Sheremetev, A. I. Mankiev’s The Core of Russian History, and V. N. Tatishchev’s Russian History.
WORKSIstoriia Sibiri, vols. 1–2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1937–41.
REFERENCEOcherki istorii istoricheskoi nauki v SSSR, vol. 1. Moscow, 1955.
S. M. TROITSKII