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John Cumming Private Press


Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Publication Materials

Financial Materials




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John Cumming Private Press, 1876-2008 | Northern Illinois University

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Collection Overview

Title: John Cumming Private Press, 1876-2008

Predominant Dates:1963-1999


Extent: 3.0 Linear Feet

Arrangement: Series I contains Publication Materials, Series II consists of Financial Materials, Series III is Correspondence, Series IV is Oversized, and Series V includes Miscellaneous materials.

Date Acquired: 12/08/2008

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The John Cumming Private Press papers consist of printed (paper-based) published materials, financial records, correspondence, oversized materials, and miscellaneous materials.  The collection is divided into series based upon format.  Series I contains Publication Materials such as publication drafts of his books and materials printed by his private press, such as advertisements and programs.  This series is ordered by title apabetically and then by date if no title was given.  Series II consists of Financial Materials including invoices, purchase orders, receipts, and checks.  Series III is Correspondence between John Cumming and buyers/sellers, acquaintances, and friends.  Within this series there are also many letters pertaining to book orders.  Some of the author's correspondence was sent electronically via email, so the electronic documents are in the author's SFWA finding aid folder titled under their name and identification number.  The printed hardcopies can be found with the rest of their boxed correspondence.  Series IV materials are Oversized and are located in the Special Collections Oversized area.  Lastly, Series V contains miscellaneous materials related to his private press, such as newspaper articles, supply brochures, and background research for his books.

Collection Historical Note

John Cumming was born in 1915 in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts and he grew up in neighboring Worcester.  As a young boy, John already had an affinity for books and newsprint, coming from a long line of type engravers.  As a young man John worked as a sports reporter for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette.  John went to Eastern Michigan University on a track scholarship and later graduated.  He was soon employed with the Detroit Public School system as a journalism teacher and later a high school counselor.

While teaching, John went back to college and earned his Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Michigan.  In 1961, John became the Director of the Clarke Historical Library.  In the years that John was the Director, he helped the library’s small collection grow, procuring rare books and creating a comprehensive assemblage of materials.  After twenty-one years as Director, John retired in 1982 and spent more time on his hobbies.

John had received a printing press from his parents at the age of seven and this hobby would grow to bring him notoriety as a small publisher.  John used a nineteenth century Chandler & Price platen press to print his books.  Each book took about a year to complete and two to three hours to hand set one page.  John was also an author of many books and journal articles that were published elsewhere.

John passed away in 2010, leaving behind his wife of more than seventy years, Audrey Marie Severance, two sons, Robert and John, and four grandchildren.

For more information about John Cumming and his Private Press, please visit https://www.cmich.edu/Pages/default.aspx

Administrative Information

Repository: Northern Illinois University

Access Restrictions: no restrictions

Use Restrictions: no restrictions

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Publication Materials],
[Series II: Financial Materials],
[Series III: Correspondence],
[Series IV: Oversized],
[Series V: Miscellaneous],

Series IV: Oversized
Folder 1: Print for the Annual Meeting of the Michigan Archival Association program, May 15 ( no year given)
Folder 2: Ehtnography of the Kutenai: Memoirs of the American Anthropological Association [no 56|proof printed by Ye Galleon Press], 1941
Folder 3: New Alaskan Book: A Labor of Love [newspaper article in the Anchorage Daily Times about John Cumming], May 27, 1968
Folder 4: Private Press Preserves Rare Americana [newspaper article and cliiping about John Cumming in the Grands Rapids Press the Arts and Cultural Activities], Oct 20, 1968 & Oct 23, 1968
Folder 5: The Drunkard's Fate [print of the program for the play at Bush Theatre at Central Michigan University], Dec 1-2 & 6-9, 1972
Folder 6: Basement Printer-Hobbist Aims at Quality, Not Profit [newspaper article in the Buyer's Guide about John Cumming], May 25, 1978
Folder 7: Invitation to the Hobby Printer's Open House and Swap Meet, May 10-11, 1980
Folder 8: The Fantastic Voyage of Glen Cameron Adams [newspaper article about Glen Adams of Ye Galleon Press in Eastern Washington University's Perspective [vol 3|no 2] page 6, Winter 1992
Folder 9: Postmarked Washington [book cover printed by Ye Galleon Press], 1999

Browse by Series:

[Series I: Publication Materials],
[Series II: Financial Materials],
[Series III: Correspondence],
[Series IV: Oversized],
[Series V: Miscellaneous],

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