A Finding Aid to the Willard Warren Cummings Papers, 1911-1997, bulk 1930-1975, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.cummwill
Creators:
Cummings, Willard Warren, 1915-1975
Dates:
1911-1997
bulk 1930-1975
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
19.3 Linear feet
Repository:
The papers of painter and co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Willard Warren Cummings measure 19.3 linear feet and date from 1911 to 1997 with the bulk of the papers dating from 1930 to 1975. The collection documents Cummings's career as an artist through biographical material, correspondence, writings, printed materials, scrapbooks, artwork, and photographic material.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter and co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Willard Warren Cummings measure 19.3 linear feet and date from 1911 to 1997 with the bulk of the papers dating from 1930 to 1975. The collection documents Cummings's career as an artist through biographical material, correspondence, writings, printed materials, scrapbooks, artwork, and photographic material.
Biographical material includes an interview transcript, material for a mural commissioned by Warner Brothers Company, and records documenting Cummings's memorial. Personal and professional correspondence with family, friends and colleagues, and clients. Writings are by Cummings, his wife Mildred, and others, and includes a 1928 diary from his time in Paris. Printed material and six scrapbooks document Cummings's career, activities at Colby College, and the work of other artists. Artwork includes student work, six sketchbooks, and a substantial number of drawings. Photographs, slides, and negatives depict Cummings, his family, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, works of art, and images from military service in the War Art Unit.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as seven series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1930-1997 (Boxes 1, 18, OVs 20-22; 1.2 linear feet)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1911-1975 (Boxes 2-13, OVs 20, 23; 12.0 linear feet)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1928-1974 (Box 14; 0.8 linear feet)
  • Series 4: Printed Materials, 1928-1996 (Boxes 14-16, 18; 1.9 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Scrapbooks, circa 1930-circa 1960 (Boxes 16, 19, OV 33, BV 35; 0.4 linear feet)
  • Series 6: Artwork, 1929-circa 1965 (Boxes 16, 18, OVs 24-32; 1.0 linear feet)
  • Series 7: Photographic Materials, circa 1930-circa 1970 (Boxes 16-18, OV 34; 2.0 linear feet)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Willard Warren Cummings (1915-1975) was a painter and co-founder of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine.
Cummings was born to Willard H. and Helen Cummings in Old Town, Maine. He studied at the Académie Julian in Paris, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Yale University, and was presented with an honorary doctorate degree from Colby College in 1960. Cummings was notable for his portraits of military generals, politicians including Margaret Chase Smith and Adlai Stevenson, actors such as Bette Davis, and other notable figures.
Cummings joined the U.S. Army in 1941. He organized a mural project for soldiers, painted portraits for the War Department, and served as an artist-correspondent with the War Art Unit in the Aleutian Islands. Cummings met artists Sidney Simon, Henry Varnum Poor, and Charles Cutler while assigned to the unit. After completing their military service, Cummings, Simon, Poor, and Cutler founded the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Skowhegan, Maine. Additionally, Cummings played an important part of organizing Soldier Art, an exhibition of the National Army Arts Contest winners.
Cummings was married to Mildred "Milly" Cummings with whom he had a daughter, Daphne, and son, William. Cummings died in 1975 in Skowhegan, Maine.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2019.
Author
Sarah Mundy
Sponsor
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Willard Warren Cummings papers were acquired from Willard H. and Willard W. Cummings from 1974 to 1976.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Willard Warren Cummings papers, 1911-1997, bulk 1930-1975. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

Related Materials
Also found at the Archives of American Art are the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture records, 1945-2013, and an oral history interview of Willard Cummings conducted by Paul Cummings on March 20, 1973 for the Archives of American Art.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Interviews Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Diaries Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Scrapbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Sketchbooks Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Drawings Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters -- Maine -- Skowhegan Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
World War, 1939-1945 -- Art and the war Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Colby College Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Warner Brother's Company Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

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/