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Alexander Griswold Cummins papers

Call Number: MS 157

Scope and Contents

These papers consist of correspondence, memoranda, printed matter, and other items relating to Alexander Griswold Cummins, a Protestant Episcopal minister of the low church, evangelical party. Cummins was the founder in 1901 of The Chronicle and its editor until his death. He employed this journal in often bitter attacks against the Anglo-Catholic, high church party and against any hint of reunion with the church of Rome, and in warm support of the Protestant and constitutional aspects of the Protestant Episcopal Church and in support of modernist, liberal theology. Articles for The Chronicle provide much of the subject matter of the correspondence, both in terms of Cummins' research and polling of churchmen for their views on various controversial issues and in terms of reader reaction to his articles. Like The Chronicle, his correspondence provides a highly partisan view of Protestant Episcopal Church politics from the early 1900s through the 1940s. The struggle between high and low churchmen is a recurrent theme, as are efforts of the church hierarchy to assume greater authority, proper use of church funds, and any and all practices smacking of Anglo-Catholicism.

Cummins was involved in behind-the-scenes campaigning in behalf of Ernest M. Stires as low church candidate for bishop of New York in 1919-1920 (folders 92-102), and for the election of Herbert Shipman, another low churchman, as Suffragan Bishop of New York in 1921 (folders 117-131). Cummins was also active in combatting charges of heresy brought against the modernist Lee W. Heaton by the conservative Diocese of Texas in 1923-1925 and the resultant attempt by the conservatives to redefine the Creed (folders 62-75). In another dispute between a low church minister and his high church parish, Cummins generously helped find emergency financial aid and a new, more congenial parish (folders 57-61).

Not all of Cummins' papers are devoted to controversy. Correspondence, schedules, and memorabilia from preaching engagements in Great Britain are included (folders 21-24), as are correspondence and memorabilia relating to his 38th and 40th anniversaries at Christ Church (folders 27-39), and to other social events (folders 82-86, 129). Cummins' correspondence contains letters not only from most of the Protestant Episcopal bishops of his day, but also from prominent clergymen of other denominations in America and Britain, as well as a few letters from such notables as Nicholas Murray Butler, H. L. Mencken, Lowell Thomas, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. The correspondence is arranged alphabetically by correspondent and subject. Cummins' original folder headings have been retained wherever possible.

Several short writings and a biographical sketch of Cummins are also included among the papers, as is some correspondence of his wife, Evelyn (Atwater) Cummins. The latter consists of letters of condolence for Cummins' death, letters on the merger of The Chronicle (of which she became the editor after his death) with The Southern Churchman in 1947, several notes from Sara Delano Roosevelt, and miscellaneous letters dealing for the most part with articles she had written. Other correspondence of Evelyn Cummins may be found interfiled with the correspondence of Alexander G. Cummins in folders 8, 28-39, and 87.

Other items in the Alexander Griswold Cummins Papers are an article about Cummins by Wilbur L. Caswell, newspaper clippings about Cummins and about the Protestant Episcopal Church, programs, invitations, and other printed matter, and photographs from anniversary dinners.

These papers were donated to Yale University by Evelyn Atwater Cummins in a series of gifts between 1937 and 1947.

For related materials in Manuscripts and Archives, see the Protestant Episcopal Bishops Collection (Ms. Gr. 21) and the E. Clowes Chorley Papers (Ms. Gr. 132). A small collection of autographs of Protestant Episcopal bishops assembled in part by E. Clowes Chorley and donated as part of the Alexander Griswold Cummins Papers by Evelyn Cummins has been transferred to the E. Clowes Chorley Papers. A list of the letters transferred can be found in the register file.


  • 1865-1947


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Evelyn Atwater Cummins, 1937-1947.


3 Linear Feet (8 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings, biographical sketches, correspondence of his wife, Evelyn Atwater Cummins, clippings, photographs, and memorabilia of Alexander G. Cummins. Correspondence makes up the largest part of the papers and is largely concerned with church matters in which he took a strong low church position.The papers show advocacy of Ernest M. Stires and Herbert Shipman in church elections and his defense of Lee W. Heaton of Texas who was charged with heresy. Many of the letters refer to articles in The Chronicle, a newspaper founded and edited by Cummins from 1901 until his death. Notable in the correspondence are Nicholas Murray Butler, H. L. Mencken, Lowell Thomas, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Guide to the Alexander Griswold Cummins Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
January 1983
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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