James L. Miller, Sr., began his newspaper career in 1921 at the Atchison (Kan.) Globe, and then was a reporter for the Kansas City Times and Star. He purchased a weekly newspaper in Milford, Iowa, and ran it until 1937 when he purchased the Washington Missourian, a weekly. In the 1950s, it became a twice-a-week newspaper.
Early on at The Missourian, he added local news photos, rare during those days in a weekly. He became a capable photographer along with his writing skills. His first darkroom was located in the Miller family home. Later, he added a photo engraving plant, also in his home. His engraving plant may have been the fi rst in Missouri operated at a weekly newspaper.
He was a pioneer in Missouri in the wide use of local photos by a weekly newspaper. During World War II, he made photos of draftees leaving for military service and at home on leave. Beginning in the 1960s to the 1980s, he traveled to 60 to 70 foreign countries, making photos for feature stories in The Missourian. Using a portable darkroom to develop film, he selected pictures to be published and included cutlines when he mailed the film and stories.
The Missourian would begin publishing the stories and pictures before he returned. His traveling companions, fellow newspapermen, later said he would stay up most of the night writing stories on his small typewriter and developing film. James L. Miller, Sr., died in 1989, at age 93. He was active at the newspaper until about age 90 and was still taking photos while in his 80s. He never lost interest in photography.