Miles Jamison Willard collection, 1920-2000

Overview of the Collection

Willard, Miles Jamison, 1924-2004
Miles Jamison Willard collection
1920-2000 (inclusive)
4 linear feet
Collection Number
MG 533
Family photographs, photographs from food science work including of potato flakes, scrapbooks, professional notes, awards, and correspondence.
University of Idaho Library, Special Collections and Archives
Special Collections and Archives
University of Idaho Library
875 Perimeter Drive
MS 2350
Moscow, ID
Telephone: 2088850845
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Miles J. Willard was a prominent engineer and scientist in Idaho notable for being involved with the invention of potato flakes. Materials in the collection include family photographs, photographs from food science work including of potato flakes, scrapbooks, professional notes, and correspondence. The correspondence primarily involves Willard's time in the military during World War II where he was involved in the Manhattan Project. He received many awards from the state of Idaho and from the University of Idaho which are also reflected in the collection. Other materials document Willard's interest in genealogy, photography, and music.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Miles Jamison Willard was born on June 10, 1924 to Miles Jamison and Ethel Stevens Willard in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early on it was evident that Willard had two great passions in life: music and chemistry.

His enthusiasm for chemistry led to a path of higher education at Drexel Institute (now Drexel University). Willard studied chemical engineering until the United State's involvement in World War II. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, and saw much of the fighting overseas, including the Battle of the Bulge. The Army eventually assigned Willard to study engineering at Rutgers University. Afterwards he was transferred Los Alamos, New Mexico where his duties included working on valves and pressure gauges for a military project. Later he learned the work he had done in New Mexico was for the atomic bomb. After World War II, Willard returned to Drexel and completed his chemical engineering degree in 1949.

Willard's career in food technology began at his employment at the Eastern Regional Research Laboratory of the USDA in Philadelphia. Here, he and a colleague developed a new drying process for the manufacture of instant mashed potato flakes. In 1955 his career path took him to Idaho, where he designed and operated the world's first commercial potato flake plant for the Rogers Brothers Company. He worked as the Director of Research for about nine years.

In 1973, Willard established the Miles Willard Company, which later became Miles Willard Technologies and is currently located in Idaho Falls, Idaho. He ran the company until his retirement in 1998. Miles Jamison Willard passed away on November 26, 2004 at 80 years old.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Preferred Citation

Author, Description or "Title" of item, date. Collection name, collection number, box, folder. University of Idaho Library Special Collections and Archives, Moscow, ID.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

This collection is made up of two accessions: MA 2003-11 and MA 2018-20. The first accession, donated in 2003, doesn't contain any donor information. The second accession, donated in 2018, was donated by Janice Willard, the step-daughter of Miles Jamison Willard.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Series I. PapersReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Topic: Personal
1 2
Topic: Potato Flakes Research
1957; 1970
Box Folder
1 3
Disston School, District No. 10 - Grade Reports
1 4
Drexel Institute of Technology (Drexel University) - Grade Reports
European Potato Chip Association Convention
Box Folder
1 5
12 Steps from Research to Production of a New Snack
1 6
Fabricated Potato Snacks And Their Structures by Miles J. Willard
Box Folder
1 7
Federal Employment
1 8
Frankford High School - Grade Reports
1 9
Governor's Awards in the Arts
Grand Teton Music Festival
Box Folder
1 10
1 11
Festival Information
1 12
Newspaper Clippings
Box Folder
1 13
Harding Junior High, District No. 8 - Grade Reports
1 14
Idaho Potato Hall of Fame programs
1 15
Materials on Julian Jaynes
Miles J. Willard met with Julian Jaynes (1920-1997), an American researcher in psychology at Yale and Princeton for nearly 25 years and best known for his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mindfamed American.
1 16
Personal Notebook
1 17
Project Summaries
circa. 1960s-1970s
1 18
Ridgemont House Recitals
Rotary Club
Box Folder
1 19
Fabricated Foods
August 1973
1 20
Introduction for Virginia and Miles Willard
6 October 1971
1 21
The Idaho Russet - Baked, Processed, and Overlooked by The Idaho Centennial
16 March 1988
Box Folder
1 22
The Alumni Digest of Drexel University, vol. 4, no. 1
University of Idaho
Box Folder
1 23
College of Agriculture Commencement
1 24

Series II. MilitaryReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 25
Personal correspondence between Miles Jamison Willard and family.
1 26
1 27
1 28
Service Pins and Tags
Includes Miles Jamison Willard's Army issued dog tag.
circa 1940s
1 29
Special Engineer Detachment 55th Year Reunion
1 30
USS Long Beach (CGN 9) guided missile cruise schedule

Series III. Printed Photographs and SlidesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 31
Aisla (?) Hoop
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 32
Bibby Straws from Flakes
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 33
Bibby Straws from Potatoes
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 34
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 35
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 36
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 37
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 38
Grand Teton Music Festival
1 39
Honorary Degree ceremony at the University of Idaho, College of Agriculture
1 40
Joey Chips
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 41
Miles Jamison Willard at Drexel University graduation
1 42
1 43
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 44
Nalley's Plant - Tacoma, WA
1 45
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 46
Nibbit Pizza Spinner (?)
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 47
Pizza Puff
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 48
Potato Chip Blanching
1 49
Potato Chip - 'N'
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 50
Potato Flakes Demonstration
1 51
Potato Puff
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 52
Potato Shoestring
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 53
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 54
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 55
Ruscott Potato Chip Machine
Installed in Foods Chip Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
13 February 1957
1 56
Snack Products
1 57
Tom's French Fries
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 58
Unknown Food Processing Plants
Photographs and slides.
1 59
Viro (?) Chip
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 60
W6-426 G (unknown snack)
Microscopic analysis photograph.
1 61
W6-451 A1 (unknown snack)
Microscopic analysis photograph.

Series IV. Awards and Certificates, 1993-1996Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 62
Doctor of Science degree - Drexel Univresity
19 June 1994
2 001
Idaho Potato Hall of Fame
Idaho Potato Hall of Fame induction award presented to Miles Willard for his outstanding contributions to the Idaho Potato Industry. Presented by the Idaho Potato Expo.
21 January 1998
2 002
University of Idaho Foundation
Membership election award presented to Miles J. Willard from the University of Idaho Foundation.
2 63
University of Idaho Honorary Degree
Honorary degree of Doctor of Administrative Science presented to Miles Willard from the University of Idaho.
18 May 1996
2 003
University of Idaho Honorary Degree plaque
Miles Willard's Honorary Degree Recipient award from the University of Idaho College of Agriculture.
2 004
University of Idaho Leadership Circle
Leadership Circle kaleidoscope award given to Miles and Virginia W. Willard from the University of Idaho.

Series V. TextilesReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Doctorial Graduation Honor Robes
2 robes.

Series VI. ScrapbooksReturn to Top

Container(s) Description
Box object
4 005
Family Scrapbook
4 006
Family Scrapbook
4 007
Military Scrapbook
4 008
Military Scrapbook
4 64
Loose-leaf pages of unknown scrapbook.

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Correspondence
  • Inventions
  • Potato flakes