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Marion Cummings papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-Cummings

Scope and Content of the Collection

Correspondence, writings, and photographs documenting the work of Marion Cummings Stanley Slonimsky and her relationship with Sara Teasdale. Letters from Teasdale to Cummings discuss her writing and publishing, health, relationships, and social circles. Several letters discuss the lives of Grace Parrish, Williamina “Will” Parrish, and Caroline Risque, all members of “The Potters,” a St. Louis based women’s art and literature collective. Teasdale also mentions her relationships with John Myers O’Hara, Vachel Lindsay, and John Hall Wheelock. Also includes a few pieces of correspondence between Teasdale biographer Margaret Haley Carpenter of Norfolk, Virginia and Henry Slonimsky.

The correspondence from Teasdale to Cummings was originally restricted until 1980 due to the content of the letters. In a November 29, 1957 letter to Newberry director Stanley Pargellis, Margaret Carpenter wrote, “I deeply feel that these letters should NOT be used by anyone for a long time, as they might be wholly misunderstood. Sara Teasdale and Marion Cummings loved each other very much; it was a spiritual love entirely, but both of them had natures capable of deep feeling, and some of the things that they wrote might be completely misunderstood; that is the best way that I can express it. Also, some of the people mentioned in these letters have relatives still living today…they are the relatives of the girlhood friends of Sara Teasdale.”

Writings by Cummings are primarily typescripts of poems, unpublished poetry anthologies, and philosophical works. Her philosophical works include many fragments, and titles such as “Western Change and the Immobility of Asiatic Civilizations” and “Chinese Ethical Rationalism versus the Moral Instinctivism of the West.” Henry Slonimsky stated that Cummings’ later works for influenced by World War I, and focus on political and sociological topics. Teasdale’s works are mostly manuscript poems sent to Cummings and include some fragments that were likely originally part of a letter. Also includes photographs, with portraits of Teasdale inscribed to Cummings, portraits of Cummings, snapshots of the two, and miscellaneous and unidentified images.


  • Creation: 1895-1956
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1909-1917



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Marion Cummings papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Marion Cummings papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Marion Cummings

White, American college professor and scholar; writer of philosophical works and poetry.

Alice Marion Cummings was born in San Jose, California in 1876 to William and Mary Olinger Cummings (also spelled Cumming). She received her BA and MA from the University of California in Philosophy and English Literature. In 1900, Marion married Bruce Stanley and they and her mother moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she taught at the University of Arizona. During the first decade of 1900, she taught philosophy, psychology, and the history of education. Her poems appeared in publications including The Smart Set, Harper's Magazine, Commonwealth, Lippincott's, and The Forum.

Marion Cummings and Sara Teasdale had a relationship beginning around 1908. Henry Slonimsky wrote that Marion was “bound in ties of close friendship with Sara Teasdale.” Between 1913 and 1914, Cummings’ mother died, she divorced Bruce Stanley, and moved to New York. In 1916, she married Dr. Henry Slonimsky.

Cummings died of cancer at the Policlinic Hospital in New York in 1926.


0.8 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


Papers of Marion Cummings (1876-1926), a teacher, philosopher, and poet, which include both her works and a collection of letters and works of American poet Sara Teasdale.


Materials are arranged in alphabetical and chronological order.

Collection Stack Location

1 13 1


Gift of Dr. Henry Slonimsky, second husband of Marion Cummings, 1956.

Processed by

Amy Nyholm, 1957; Virginia H. Smith, 2000; Catherine Grandgeorge, 2021.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Finding Aid Revisions

This finding aid was revised in December 2021 to add contextual information about the relationship between Marion Cummings and Sara Teasdale. Changes were made to the Biography, Scope and Contents note, subject headings, and the folder inventory was expanded. Previous versions of this finding aid may be available. Please contact for details or to provide feedback about these revisions.

Marion Cummings papers, 1895-1956, bulk 1909-1917
Virginia H. Smith, Catherine Grandgeorge
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2011-08-17: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.
  • 2021-12-17: Finding aid revised to include folder level information and to add contextual information about the relationship between Sara Teasdale and Marion Cummings. See the Finding Aid Revisions note for more information.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States