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Henry Cummins papers

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: Ax 130

Scope and Contents

Cummins shared his interests and prejudices with friends in Eugene, Salem, and Portland. His correspondence is filled with discussions of the merits or demerits of whatever branch of learning excited him at the moment. The letters also contain much gossip, self-searching, and youthful indignation. They include references to Joaquin Miller. Includes 217 letters.

Most of Cummins' own letters are to young women; he was apparently able to retrieve the letters when affections cooled.

Major correspondents include his brother, John, a lawyer in Lafayette, Oregon, Charles Partridge, James M. Gale, Charles Lafollett, J. L. Luckey, C. M. Sawtelle, Theodore Burmester, Charles H. DeWolfe, Bynon J. Pengra, Cornelia Coon, J. S. Miller, Sidney H. Marsh, C. Hoel, and Emily Crandall.

There are six letters by friends from the Salmon River mines, Idaho, 1862.

Also included in the collection are two memory books filled with inscriptions and good wishes from many of Cummins' friends and acquaintances. One of these books contains a small photograph of Cummins with negative.


  • 1858-1863


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Henry Cummins (1840-1901) was a resident of Eugene, Oregon, a refugee from his father's farm. His father, William M. Cummins, had come to Oregon in 1853 and settled in Lane County.

Henry attended school for a time, worked in a bookstore, set type and did job printing in the office of the People's Press and later for the State Republican, worked on a survey expedition under Dr. A. W. Patterson up the Deschutes River in 1861, was appointed assistant clerk in the state Legislature (House) in 1862, and studied law.

He left Oregon in 1863, went to Washington, D.C., and is said to have been involved with some of Hinton Helper's schemes. He was attracted to spiritualism, phrenology, phonography, handwriting schools, atheism, water cures, vegetarianism, and geology. He founded a Pantheon of Science in Eugene and was a member of the Infidel Association of America. He read widely and indiscriminately.


0.5 linear feet (1 container) : 1 clamshell box

Language of Materials



Henry Cummins (1840-1901) was a well-read and enthusiastic student of topics various and sundry with a partiality for pseudo-science. The collection (1858-1863) consists of Cummins' personal correspondence as well as a memory book and miscellaneous papers.


Material within this collection is minimally arranged. Any arrangement is either derived from the records' creators or custodians or from staff at the time of initial processing. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.

Related Materials

Other collections relating to Henry Cummins at Special Collections and University Archives include: In pursuit of Henry Cummins : the human dimensions of historical research, SFM 103.

A manuscript calendar (index) of the letters and microfilm of Henry Cummins' diaries (held in the Western Americana Collection, Yale University) can also be found in the Library.

An article by Thomas Jefferson Easterwood, "Henry Cummins, Constant Reader," detailing Cummins' biography and reading habits can be found in University of Oregon Library Call Number, vol. 23, no. 1 (Fall 1961).

Processing Information

Collection processed by staff.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

This collection received a basic level of processing including minimal to no organization and rehousing.

Description information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.

Guide to the Henry Cummins Papers
Complete Description
Austin Munsell
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.
Funding for production of this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA