Women’s History Month: Eliza Miller

Eliza Miller
Photo courtesy of the Arkansas State Archives.

Born: September 6, 1869 in Arkadelphia

Died: August 28, 1938 

Bio:  Eliza Ann Ross Miller was an African American businesswoman and educator, as well as the first woman to build and operate a movie theater in Arkansas. She was the wife of prosperous Helena businessman, state legislator and church leader Abraham Hugo Miller. After her husband’s death, she continued his business operations while also providing leadership in the Helena school system. 

In 1978, Eliza Miller Park was established in Helena. Three schools in the area now bear her name. Combined, the schools number roughly 1,000 students, more than 90 percent of whom are African American. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999.

In 2003, the Arkansas General Assembly recognized Eliza Miller and the Miller family for their accomplishments in a resolution. That same year, New York Institute of Technology student and filmmaker Dana Bingham completed a short documentary film, Eliza Ross Miller: Ye Shall Know Thee by Thy Fruits, which was funded by the Arkansas Humanities Council. 

You can learn more about the life of Eliza Miller at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.