Joseph B. Cumming papers, 1889-2009 (bulk 1944-2009)

Emory University

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


Permanent link:

Collection Stored Off-Site

All or portions of this collection are housed off-site. Materials can still be requested but researchers should expect a delay of up to two business days for retrieval.

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Cumming, Joseph B., 1926-
Title: Joseph B. Cumming papers, 1889-2009 (bulk 1944-2009)
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 942
Extent: 22.25 linear feet (40 boxes), 2 oversized papers boxes (OP), 2.8 MB (13 files) of born digital material, and AV Masters: .5 linear feet (2 boxes)
Abstract:The papers of reporter and educator Joseph "Joe" Cumming, Jr., consist of correspondence, notebooks, printed material, subject files, and writings.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Special restrictions apply: Collection stored off-site. Researchers must contact the Rose Library in advance to access this collection.

Use copies have not been made for audiovisual material in this collection. Researchers must contact Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or technical complications may hinder Rose Library's ability to provide access to audiovisual material.

Use copies have not been made for fragile material in this collection. Researchers must contact Rose Library at least two weeks in advance for access to these items. Collection restrictions, copyright limitations, or physical complications may hinder Rose Library's ability to provide access to fragile material.

Due to privacy concerns, some materials in the collection have been redacted.

Use of the original digital media is restricted. Access to born digital materials is only available at the computer workstation in the Rose Library.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Researchers are not permitted to copy or download any of the digital files from the searchable database on the computer workstation.

Related Materials in This Repository

Newsweek Atlanta Bureau records.

Separated Material

Some printed items from this collection have been cataloged individually. These materials may be located in the Emory University online catalog by searching Cumming, Joseph B., 1926-, former owner.


Gift, 2002, with subsequent additions.


[after identification of item(s)], Joseph B. Cumming papers, Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.


Arranged and described at the folder level by Kristin Morgan, October 2016. Born digital materials processed by Dorothy Waugh and Kristin Morgan, October 2016. The born digital materials currently available to researchers are taken from two 3.5" floppy disks. Disk images of this media were captured and files extracted from the images. The thirteen files include one OpenOffice file and twelve JPGs. The OpenOffice file was migrated to PDF to create an access copy. For more information, see the arrangement note in the description of Series 5, Writings.

This finding aid may include language that is offensive or harmful. Please refer to the Rose Library's harmful language statement for more information about why such language may appear and ongoing efforts to remediate racist, ableist, sexist, homophobic, euphemistic and other oppressive language. If you are concerned about language used in this finding aid, please contact us at

Collection Description

Biographical Note

Joseph "Joe" Bryan Cumming, Jr. (1926- ), was a journalist (1957-1961) and the Bureau chief (1961-1979) for Newsweek's Atlanta Bureau. He was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Joseph Bryan Cumming, Jr., and Virginia Burum. While Joe is conventionally the third Joseph Bryan Cumming, he is known personally and professionally as junior. He attended high school at the Academy of Richmond County and college at Augusta University (then the Junior College of Augusta). While serving as an Ensign in the United States Navy Reserve from 1944-1946, he pursued a Bachelor of Arts in history with a minor in political science from the University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee) and graduated in 1947. He remained active as a volunteer in the U.S. Navy Reserve until 1962. In 1979, he enrolled in Emory University's Institute for the Liberal Arts, focusing on general studies; he completed his master's in the program in 1981. Cumming married Emily Wright in 1950 and the couple had four children: Joseph Bryan, IV, Walter, Douglas ("Doug"), and Anne.

As a journalist, Cumming often covered topics including civil rights, politics, literature, and the performing arts in the South. In 1965, Cumming covered the March on Washington and actively participated in the march. After retiring from Newsweek in 1979, he taught journalism in the University of West Georgia's Mass Communications and Theater department from 1981-1991. Cumming also had an interest in pedagogy and new ways of teaching; he wrote frequently on this topics after his retirement from Newsweek. In addition to his published articles and poems, Joe Cumming was the author of Bylines: Writings from the American South, 1963-1997 (2010) and co-author (with Doug Cumming and illustrator Walter Cumming) of The Family Secret (1983).

Joe and Emily were active members of their community, especially with their church, St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Carrollton, Georgia; they participated in the choir and contributed writings to the church's newsletter, St. Margaret's Notebook, of which Joe was also the editor. Joe also joined the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce in November 1997. The Cummings were frequent visitors to Tate Mountain in Jasper, Georgia, where they would vacation with a large group of friends and family affectionately called "the Taters." These Tate vacations were often venues for Joe Cumming's own plays and skits, which he performed as full community theater productions as a member of the "Tater Patch Players" beginning in 1978.

Scope and Content Note

The collection contains the papers of Joseph B. ("Joe") Cumming, Jr., from 1889-2009. The papers include correspondence, notebooks, printed materials, subject files, and writings. Correspondence is primarily personal letters between Cumming and fellow journalists such as Bill Emerson, Ralph McGill, Paul Hemphill, and Marshall Frady; family members such as Emily ("Embo") Cumming, Walter Cumming, Doug Cumming, and Anne Cumming; and other associates, especially writers Mary Hood and Walter Griffin, and editors Michele Ross and Don McKinney. The notebooks contain Cumming's diary entries, personal notes, lesson plans, and notes for and drafts of his writings, including journalistic works, poems, and fiction.

Printed materials are about or by Cumming and his son, Doug Cumming, and Joe's wife, Emily Cumming. They include works published in magazines and newspapers West Georgian, Atlanta Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, American Way, Atlanta, Eclectic, Esquire, Georgia, Harper's, St. Margaret's Notebook, Times-Georgian, Diocese, The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Chronicle of Higher Education. Cumming's experience participating in the 1965 March on Washington as a journalist features heavily in his writings on civil rights and in others' writings about him. Subject files contain materials on education, travels and vacations, events, and research topics. Writings contain both published and unpublished works by Cumming and works by others which were collected or reviewed by Cumming. Topics of these writings include WWII; American culture from the 1930s through 1990s; the Civil Rights Movement; education; literature, journalism, writing, publishing, and authors; the visual and performing arts; cultural events in Georgia; and family, friends, and other associates.

Arrangement Note

Organized into five series: (1) Correspondence, (2) Notebooks, (3) Printed materials, (4) Subject files, and (5) Writings.

Selected Search Terms

Corporate Names

Topical Terms

Geographic Names

Form/Genre Terms

Personal Names

Description of Series