Skip to main content

John Cumming Private Press

Identifier: RBSC-SPX-014

Scope and Contents

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.


  • created: 1876-2008
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1963-1999
  • Other: Date acquired: 12/08/2008

Conditions Governing Access

no restrictions

Conditions Governing Use

no restrictions

Biographical or Historical Information

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 [url=][/url]

Note written by


3.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

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.

Archon Finding Aid Title
Description rules
Other Unmapped
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Northern Illinois University Repository

Founders Memorial Library
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb IL 60115 US