When nutritionist Carey D. Miller was first invited to join the University of Hawaii faculty as an assistant professor, the invitation came via a Western Union Telegraph directly from UH President Arthur Dean.
The telegram, sent on April 1, 1922, was short and direct.
MRS CHENEY AND DR NORGAN SUGGEST YOU TO TAKE CHARGE DOMESTIC SCIENCE UNIVERSITY HAWAII ASSISTANT PROFESSORSHIP TWENTY SEVEN HUNDRED PLUS STEAMER FARE SAN FRANCISCO TO HONOLULU WIRE ME AT STEWART HOTEL WHETHER OR NOT INTERESTED
Her initial response was brief, the text handwritten and edited before being dictated to a Western Union clerk.
On further consideration decide I cannot accept Hawaii position.
Dean persisted. A follow-up telegram stressed the importance placed on renewed research into the nutritional content of Hawaii fruits and vegetables, said a 45 percent increase in “women undergraduates” meant likely increases in the number of students taking Domestic Science classes, and promised to invest university resources to build up the department.
“Will you reconsider decision,” Dean asked.
It paid off. This time Miller appeared to relent.
With chance for nutrition work will consider assistant professorship three thousand plus steamer fare San Francisco to Honolulu nine or ten months session stop Is this right Stop Wish to talk further to Mr. Hemenway where can I reach him in New York Will letter to San Francisco reach you.
The series of telegrams are among Miller’s personal papers and other items left in my mother’s care after Miller’s death in 1985. Miller had been my mother’s mentor at UH in the 1930s, and the two remained good friends throughout Miller’s life. The exchange of telegrams turned up last week while my sister and I were starting the job of clearing a storeroom at my parents’ home in Kahala.
Along with the telegrams in a four page handwritten letter from the UH president to Miller.
I was glad to receive your letter of April 12 which made clear your acceptance of the position with us; it was not wholly certain from your telegram.
Dean’s letter went on to discuss travel arrangements on a Matson liner to Honolulu (“The best I could do was an upper in room 20 which is fairly good”), the class schedule, and housing in Hawaii.
And that was the beginning of Miller’s nearly 40-year career at the University of Hawaii.