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Rachel McMasters Miller married Roy Hunt on June 11, 1913. The daughter of Mortimer Craig Miller and Rachel Hughey McMasters, she was born on June 30, 1882 in Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania and was educated at the Thurston School in Pittsburgh and Miss Mittleberger’s School for Girls in Cleveland. She and Roy had four sons: Alfred M. Hunt (1919-1984), Torrence M. Hunt (1921-2004), Roy A. Hunt, Jr. (1924-1981), and Richard M. Hunt (b.1926).
Throughout her life, Rachel maintained an active interest in botany, horticulture and bookbinding. An accomplished bookbinder, she exhibited thirty-four of her books at the New York School of Applied Design for Women in 1911, an exhibit that later moved to the Wunderly Galleries in Pittsburgh. Her first gift to Roy was a copy of The Book of Common Prayer, which she had bound and appropriately tooled in aluminum. Rachel studied bookbinding with Euphemia Bakewell, a student of the English master binder, T. J. Cobden-Sanderson. Her considerable mastery of the bookbinder’s craft enabled her to produce approximately 90 bindings, many of which are now held by the Hunt Institute. Her binding activity is documented in Marianne Titcombe’s The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Pittsburgh, 1974.
She also began to collect rare books in earnest. In addition to books on plant-related subjects, she collected works on bookbinding, typography and book production, as well as the products of selected private presses. In the Foreword of The Bookbinding Career of Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt, Frederick B. Adams, Jr. writes, “It is rare to find combined in one person both the technical and artistic powers required to carry out satisfactorily all the steps necessary to create a gilt-tooled leather bookbinding from start to finish. For this reason, for several centuries the various stages have commonly been accomplished by different persons in a bindery, sewing by one, forwarding by another, and finishing (tooling and onlaying) by the principal craftsman of the team. But Miss Miller followed through all parts of the process herself except the edge gilding…”
Rachel was a member of more than thirty horticultural and botanical organizations, some of which she helped to establish. In 1956, she was named Honorary Vice President of the American Horticultural Society. She authored books and papers, and lectured widely in the fields of horticulture and literature. Carnegie Institute of Technology awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Human Letters in 1960. Due to her love of books and flowers, Rachel acquired a remarkable collection of historically significant botanical books and art. In 1961, she and Roy established the Hunt Botanical Library at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation at Carnegie Mellon University). The Institute continues its curatorial work and research in systematic botany and serves as a resource for botanists from around the world.Taken from the web site of the Roy A. Hunt Foundation: www.rahuntfdn.org/history.shtml