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Charles Atherton Cumming papers

Identifier: Ms-0331

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of correspondence between Charles Atherton Cumming and various American artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. The letters form a collection from the time when Cumming’s widow gave the letters to a journalist for background information. The correspondence mainly details the decoration of the Iowa State Capitol which was overseen by the Iowa Capitol Commission, of which Cumming was a member. Other Commission members whose letters form part of the collection are Edith Bell, an artist and an instructor in the Department of Art at Iowa State University, A. B. Funk and E. P. Schoentgen Also discussed in the letters are sales of Cumming’s paintings and other artistic concerns. Included in the collection are letters from Frederick Dielman, a mosaicist whose work appear in the Library of Congress, discussing his work for the State Capitol in Des Moines. Correspondents also include Bert Greer Phillips, a member of the Taos art colony, whose work includes murals on the Polk County court house, the capitol in Jefferson, MO, and the courthouse in Taos, NM, and Russell Cowles, born in Iowa, but who worked in Santa Fe, NM for many years. Other correspondents include: Edwin H. Blashfield, an artists whose works are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota State Capitols, and the Library of Congress, amongst other places; Elmer E. Garnsey, also a decorator of the Iowa State Capitol, Charles W. Hudson, Will H. Low, W. A. Payne, and Douglas Volk.

Falk, Peter Hastings, ed. Who was who in American Art. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1985.
Dawdy, Doris Ostrander. Artists of the American West. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 1985.


  • 1902-1928
  • 1902-1928

Language of Materials


Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright and other applicable statutes.

All literary rights possessed in this collection have been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.

Biographical / Historical

Charles Atherton Cumming was born March 31, 1865 in Knox County, Iowa to George Paxton Cumming and Eliza Atherton. He studied art at the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Académie Julien in Paris, France. He was an artist as well as an educator. He was an early faculty member of the Department of Art at Cornell University. He founded the Cumming School of Art in Des Moines, Iowa in 1895. He also taught and was involved at the State University of Iowa. In 1926, he married artist Alice McKee, who had studied at the Cumming School of Art. Cumming’s works include murals in the Polk County courthouse, the Iowa State House and other public buildings in Des Moines and elsewhere. He died February 16, 1932.


0.25 Linear Feet


Contact Information

  1. Archives and Special Collections
  2. NewMexico State University Library
  3. P.O. Box 30006
  4. Las Cruces, NewMexico 88003-8006
  5. Phone: (575) 646-3839
  6. Fax: (575) 646-7477
  7. Email:
  8. URL:


Inventory of the Charles Atherton Cumming papers, 1902-1928
Edited Full Draft
Processed by Roxanne Klunczyk
© 2000
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Revision Statements

  • June 28, 2004: PUBLIC "-//New Mexico State University::Archives and Special Collections//TEXT (US::NmLcU::Ms 331::Charles Atherton Cumming Papers)//EN" "nmlcu1ms331.sgml" converted from EAD 1.0 to 2002 by v1to02.xsl (sy2003-10-15).
  • Monday, 20210524: Attribute normal is missing or blank.

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA