This series includes materials from Cumnock's life at Northwestern and materials related to public interest in Cumnock after his death in 1928. The series includes biographical materials, correspondence, clippings, programs from speaking engagements, contracts, research correspondence and posthumous documents.
The series begins with a small collection of biographical materials. A little publication of “Speeches and Papers Given at the Unveiling of the Cumnock Portrait” and a collection of quotes about Cumnock from various newspapers form the bulk of the biographical materials.
The obituaries and eulogies folder contains newspaper articles relating to Cumnock's death and transcripts of remarks written by Paul M. Pearson, N.U. President Walter Dill Scott, Prof. James L. Lardner, Agnes Law and Dean Ralph Dennis and delivered at the Memorial Service for Robert Cumnock that was held at Annie May Swift Hall on December 5, 1928. These remarks were later published in booklet form, copies of which are included in this folder.
Correspondence, arranged chronologically, spans the years 1880 and 1928. The bulk of the correspondence after 1913 is between Cumnock and Ralph Dennis, the close friend and colleague who succeeded Cumnock as Dean of the School of Speech. Of special interest is an 1895 letter from Frances E. Willard to Cumnock in which she congratulates him on the new building for the School of Oratory and applauds what he has done to extend the opportunity of education in oratory to women as well as men.
The clippings relate to Cumnock's work at Northwestern and his involvement with the Chautauqua Conventions.
A handful of programs illustrate the venues where Cumnock appeared for speaking engagements, and list examples of selections read at such events.
Two contracts between Northwestern University and Robert Cumnock document the foundation of the School of Oratory and the ongoing relationship between the School and the University. The first, from 1894, actually established the School of Oratory and named Robert Cumnock as its director. The other contract, from 1912, would have been the last one between Cumnock and the University before he retired.
The remainder of the collection mainly consists of posthumous interest in Cumnock's life. One folder contains correspondence regarding Cumnock that was sent to and answered by the University over several decades. Three years before Cumnock's death, Dean Ralph Dennis began to prepare for this inevitability by requesting that alumni send reminiscences of Cumnock to be used in eulogies and publications upon his death. A few examples of these remain. Upon Cumnock's death, letters of condolence were sent to Dean Dennis by friends, colleagues and alumni.
The research correspondence (Grace Mattern) was generated while Mattern was preparing her master's thesis (1929), a biography of Cumnock. Correspondents include Cumnock's former students and colleagues. In 1950, L. Elaine DuCharme wrote a paper on Cumnock for her Problems in Interpretation class for Dr. Wallace Bacon (School of Speech).