Obit.: Joseph Miller, professor of history, scholar of Angola and of slavery (1939-2019)

Kathleen Sheldon's picture

Dear friends and colleagues,

I am deeply grieving as I share the news of Joseph C. Miller’s passing. He was a distinguished professor of history at the University of Virginia, and the author of many books and articles on African and Angolan history, and he made enormous contributions on the history of slavery. Among his best known is the monumental Way of Death: Merchant Capitalism and the Angolan Slave Trade, 1730-1830 (University of Wisconsin Press, 1988) which won the 1989 Melville Herskovits Prize of the African Studies Association. He also wrote for and edited several prize-winning reference works on African history and on slavery. To see the full extent of his prolific publications, as well as his numerous awards and other information, see his page at the UVA website,


Many of you knew Joe and his warm and welcoming personality, his mentorship of other scholars, his active participation in conferences over the years, and his service to our profession, including terms as president of the African Studies Association (2005-2006) and of the American Historical Association (1998). He always supported our efforts to build networks among scholars of Lusophone Africa.


Joe had been recently diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and passed peacefully with his family around him. A memorial service is planned for later this spring.



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A Celebration of the Life of Joe Miller

The Celebration will be held on Sunday 26 May 2019 from 3:00 to 6:00 in Alumni Hall at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

If you plan to attend, kindly email Joe’s wife Mary Catherine Wimer at so that she will know approximately how many people will attend. Please also advise her if you would like to speak at the Celebration.

Jeanne Marie Penvenne