A Finding Aid to the Thomas Seir Cummings papers, circa 1824-1983, bulk circa 1824-1894, in the Archives of American Art
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.cummitho
Creators:
Cummings, Thomas Seir, 1804-1894
Dates:
circa 1824-1983
bulk circa 1824-1894
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
0.4 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of acclaimed miniaturist and co-founder of the National Academy of Design Thomas Seir Cummings (1804-1894), measure 0.4 linear feet and date from circa 1824-1983, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1824-1894. Papers include correspondence, writings and notes, personal and academy business and financial records, and printed material, which provide scattered but significant documentation of Cummings's various roles at the National Academy of Design and as an author and educator.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of acclaimed miniaturist and co-founder of the National Academy of Design Thomas Seir Cummings (1804-1894), measure 0.4 linear feet and date from circa 1824-1983, with the bulk of the material dating from circa 1824-1894. Papers include correspondence, writings and notes, personal and academy business and financial records, and printed material, which provide scattered but significant documentation of Cummings's various roles at the National Academy of Design and as an author and educator.

Arrangement
Arrangement
Due to the small size of the collection, papers are arranged as one series by record type.
  • Series 1: Thomas Seir Cummings Papers, circa 1824-1983 (0.4 linear feet; Box 1)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
New York painter Thomas Seir Cummings (1804-1894) was one of the most acclaimed miniaturists of the nineteenth century. He helped found the National Academy of Design in 1826, served as treasurer for almost forty years, and published a history of the organization in 1865.
Cummings was born in Bath, England, and was brought to New York City as an infant. He learned miniature painting from Henry Inman, with whom he worked in partnership from 1824 to 1827, focusing on portraiture. As interest in miniature portraiture declined with the growing popularity of photography, Cummings turned increasingly to teaching and writing. He taught miniature painting at the National Academy from 1831 to 1838, became a fine arts professor at New York University in 1844, and founded the Cummings School of Design in 1846.
His contributions to the National Academy of Design included serving as treasurer from 1827 to 1865, vice president from 1850-1859, and chairman of the committee that erected the present home of the academy. Cummings also led the development of the academy's art instructional program during the late-1850s to mid-1860s and, in 1865, published Historic Annals of the National Academy of Design. This seminal history of the academy's early years is also considered an important history of early American art.
Cummings later settled in Hackensack, New Jersey, where he died in 1894.

Administration
Existence and Location of Copies
The bulk of the collection was digitized in 2019 and is available on the Archives of American Art website. Materials which have not been digitized include blank pages and duplicates. Publications have had only their covers, title pages, and relevant pages digitized.
Processing Information
The collection was fully processed and described in a finding aid by Stephanie Ashley in 2018, and the bulk of the collection was digitized in 2019, with funding provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Walton Family Foundation.
Author
Stephanie Ashley
Sponsor
Funding for the processing and digitization of this collection was provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Walton Family Foundation
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The papers were donated to the Archives of American Art in 2018 by the National Academy of Design via Maura Reilly, Executive Director.

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.
Conditions Governing Use
The Thomas Seir Cummings papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.
Preferred Citation
Thomas Seir Cummings papers, circa 1824-1983, bulk circa 1824-1894. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/