Harry Sythe Cummings Photograph Collection - PP240

Maryland Historical Society
Photograph Collection Inventory List
Special Collections Department
201 West Monument Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201
410-685-3750; special_collections@mdhs.org 

HARRY SYTHE CUMMINGS PHOTOGRAPH COLLECTION, PP240
ca. 1890-1910 and not dated 

Processed by Jennifer A. Ferretti, Curator of Photographs, March 2012

For information about how to purchase digital reproductions and for permission information, please visit the Rights and Reproductions page.  

View the Cummings Photograph Collection inventory list as PDF 

History

Harry Sythe Cummings (1866-1917) was a lawyer, first black Baltimore City Councilman, and fraternal leader. He was second eldest son of the eight children of Henry Cummings and Eliza Jane Davage Cummings. His father, Henry, was a chef and his mother, Eliza, conducted a lodging and boarding business in the family homes, 424 West Biddle Street and 1234 Druid Hill Avenue, Baltimore. One of Harry’s brothers, Aaron Cummings, became the first black United States Postal Service Supervisor in Baltimore. Ida Cummings, one of Harry’s sisters, was one of the first black kindergarten teachers in Baltimore. Cummings married Blanche Teresa Conklin and had two children, Louise Virginia Cummings Dorcas and Harry Sythe Cummings, Jr.

After early education in public schools and recognizing there were no opportunities for African Americans to attend high school in Baltimore, Cummings enrolled in Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. At the age of 16, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1886.

He read law in the office of Joseph S. Davis, Esq., common practice for African Americans wishing to practice law in Baltimore. In 1887, he entered University of Maryland School of Law as one of the first two African Americans to finish the program. It took a Maryland Court of Appeals deicision in 1936 (Pearson v. Murray) to reopen the law school to African American students after Cummings graduated. 

He was admitted to the practice of law on May 30, 1889 and continued actively in that profession. At the age of 26 in 1890, he was the first African American to serve in the City Council of Baltimore. He was reelected in 1891, 1896, and again in 1907, serving until his death in 1917.

February 1, 1892, he introduced the ordinance which was passed and signed by Mayor Ferdinand Latrobe on February 16, 1892, founding the first Manual Training School for Colored Youth in the City of Baltimore. Ten thousand dollars was appropriated to the school and it was named Colored Polytechnic Institute. He was a constant worker for more African American teachers and more schools open to African American students.

At the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois in June 1904, he made one of the addresses seconding the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt for the Presidency of the United States.

He was an active member in many fraternal orders and from 1910 to 1912 was Grand Attorney for the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.

Collection Origin

Gift of Mr. Harry S. Cummings, Jr. and Mrs. Louise Cummings Dorcas, 1996.

Scope and Contents

Twenty-seven items in four boxes, spanning ca. 1890-1910, most items are not dated. Three boxes are oversized boxes. Contents include photographic prints, one etched plate with wood backing, six framed photographs, postcards. 

Arrangement

Photographs remain in the order in which they were received.

View the container list as a PDF

Container List (4 Boxes, including oversized material)

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 1
Item ID: PP240.001
Description: Portrait of unidentified female graduate. Possibly Louise Cummings Dorcas (daughter of Harry S. Cummings).
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 4.5 x 6.5 in. photograph on 7 x 11 in. paper
Notes: Copy negative: Z24.2551


Box, Folder:
Box 1, Folder 2
Item ID: PP240.002
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Photograph of Harry Sythe Cummings seated, in formal attire.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 3.75 x 4.5 in., black-and-white photograph (on board) 
 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 2
Item ID: PP240.003
Description: Postcard. Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pa. Handwritten memo: “Dear Ma: Here’s where liberty-bell [sic] rand our independence. Your son Harry.”
Verso: Mrs. E[liza] Cummings, 1234 [Druid] [Hill] Ave. Balto., Md. Postmarked Philadelphia, PA, 7:30p, October 19, 1906. One cent postage.
Date: October 19, 1906
Creator: Rotograph Co.; Harry S. Cummings
Format: 5.5 x 3.5 in., postcard


Box, Folder:
Box 1, Folder 2
Item ID: PP240.004
Description: Group portrait with Harry S. Cummings. Possible identifications from left to right: William McCarver (?), Harry S. Cummings (definitely), Julius Johnson, W.L. Houston, Ben Davis, Jesse Nicholas, and Joe Garner. "Preparing for 15th B.M.C. [Bienniel Movable Committee] [illegible], July 15, 1910." This photograph relates to a national convention in Baltimore in 1910 of the Grand Order of Odd Fellows of America.
Date: July 15, 1910
Creator:  Unidentified photographer
Format: 6.75 x 5 in., black-and-white photograph


Box, Folder:
Box 1, Folder 3
Item ID: PP240.005
Description: Group portrait. Thirteen African American men on steps of rowhouse. Handwritten description (probably adhered to back of photograph, now separated): “A group of ministers and lawyers formed to obtain jobs for Colored Teachers in the Colored High School before 1900. Front row 1. Unknown 2. Atty. H.S. Cummings 3. Atty Parker. Row 2 -1. Atty G. Pendleton 2. Atty Ashby Hawkins 3. Atty. William McCard(?) Row 3 -1. Unknown 2. Atty H. Burkett 3. Atty W.T. Mc(?) 4. Unknown. Row 4 -1. Unknown 2. Rev. H. Johnson 3. Atty. C.C. Fitzgerald. Picture taken in 1900 Block of Druid Hill Avenue at the home of Rev. Harvey Johnson, founder of Union Baptist Church. 1200 Block D.H.A.”
Date: ca. 1900
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 8.25 x 10 in., black-and-white photograph
Notes: Copy negative: Z24.1655

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 4
Item ID: PP240.006
Description: Marian Anderson, singer, at microphones. Also pictured is Charles Houston, Dean of Howard Law School.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 8 x 10 in., black-and-white photograph
Notes: Adhered to glass.

 

Box, Folder: Box 2 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID:  PP240.007
Description: Cummings, Ida. First African American kindergarten teacher in the city of Baltimore, School #104. Sister to Harry S. Cummings. Photograph on oval board.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 11 x 14 in., black-and-white photograph
Notes: OVERSIZED. Photograph is torn in the middle. Do not remove from Mylar. Copy negative: Z24.2550

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 5
Item ID: PP240.008
Description: Group portrait. Unidentified group portrait of men women, and children gathered in front of a large rock on mountain. Handwritten on mat board: "Balance Rock. 'Garden of Gods' Colo." Verso: Ida R. Cummings (handwritten).
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 4.5 x 7.5 in. on 6 x 9 in. board, black-and-white photograph 

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 6
Item ID: PP240.009
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Photograph of Harry Cummings printed on postcard paper. Handwritten on photograph: "To my friend Doc from Jack". Verso: "HSC Sr." (handwritten).
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 3.5 x 5.5 in., black-and-white photograph on postcard paper 

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 6
Item ID: PP240.010
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Etching of Harry Sythe Cummings. Johnson-Wynne Co. Publishers. Washington - Boston. Handwritten on front: "To my dear brother and sister Aaron and Lula (?) from Harry, Xmas 1916.
Date: 1916
Creator: Johnson-Wynne Co., Publishers
Format: 7.5 x 9 in., etching 

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 7
Item ID: PP240.011
Description: Cummings Jr., Harry Sythe. Photograph of Harry Sythe Cummings, Jr. sitting in front of Christmas tree. Verso: "HSC Jr." (handwritten). 
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer 
Format: 3.25 x 4 in., black-and-white photograph

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 7
Item ID: PP240.012
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Photograph of a young Harry Sythe Cummings.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 4 x 5.75 in., photograph

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 7
Item ID: PP240.013
Description: Cummings, Henry. Photograph of Henry Cummings. Son-in-law of Charles Davage. Photograph by Richard Walzl. Henry Cummings was employed as a chef and was father to Harry Sythe Cummings.
Date: ca. 1891-1893
Creator: Walzl, Richard, 1843-1899
Format: 5.5 x 4 in. cabinet card

  

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 8
Item ID: PP240.014
Description: Davage, Eliza Jane. Photograph of Eliza Jane Davage Cummings. Wife of Henry Cummings and mother to Harry Sythe Cummings.
Date: Not dated
Creator:  Unidentified photographer
Format: 4 x 5.5 in., black-and-white photograph

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 8
Item ID: PP240.015
Description: Cummings, Ida R. Photograph of Ida R. Cummings. First black kindergarten teacher in Baltimore city. First female trustee at Morgan State College.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 3.75 x 5.25 in, black-and-white photograph
Notes: See also: PP240.019

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 8
Item ID: PP240.016
Description: Cummings, Blanche Conklin. Photograph of Blanche Conklin Cummings, wife of Harry Sythe Cummings. Printed on postcard paper.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 3.5 x 5.5 in., photograph on postcard paper

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 8
Item ID: PP240.017
Description: Davage, Sidney Hall. Photograph of Sidney Hall Davage. Daughter of Slave Easter of the Parry Hall Plantation. Photograph by Richard Walzl.
Date: ca. 1891-1893
Creator: Walzl, Richard, 1843-1899
Format: 4.25 x 6.5 in., cabinet card
Notes: See also: PP240.018

 

Box, Folder: Box 1, Folder 8
Item ID: PP240.018
Description: Davage, Sidney Hall. Photograph of Sidney Hall Davage. Daughter of Slave Easter of the Parry Hall Plantation. Copy. Original photograph by Richard Walzl.
Date: ca. 1891-1893 (original)
Creator: Walzl, Richard, 1843-1899 (original)
Format: 4 x 5.5 in., black-and-white photograph\
Notes: See also: PP240.017

 

Box, Folder: Box 2 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.019
Description: Cummings, Ida R. Photograph of Ida R. Cummings. First black kindergarten teacher in Baltimore city. First female trustee at Morgan State College.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 9 x 13.75 in. photograph
Notes: See also: PP240.015

 

Box, Folder: Box 3 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.020A
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Etched plate of Harry Sythe Cummings portrait and signature. For positive print, see PP240.010.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified artist
Format: 5 x 7 in., plate
Notes: See also: PP240.010

 

Box, Folder: Box 3 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.020B
Description: Wooden backing for Harry Sythe Cummings etched plate.
Date: Not dated
Creator:  N/A
Format: 5.5 x 8 in., wood
Notes: Backing to PP240.020A

 

Box, Folder: Box 2 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.021
Description: Watty, Hiram. Framed photograph of Hiram Watty, Baltimore City Councilman (served from 1899-1905).
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 6.5 x 8.75 in., framed photograph 

 

Box, Folder: Box 2 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.022
Description: Postcard. University of Maryland, general view. Baltimore, Maryland. Handwritten on front: "Graduated from Law Dept Class of 1889 H.S.C."
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified publisher
Format: 9.5 x 7.5 in., framed photograph
 

Box, Folder: Box 3 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.023
Description: Cummings, Henry. Portrait of Henry Cummings. Framed cabinet card. Henry Cummings was employed as a chef and father to Harry Sythe Cummings.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 9.25 x 11.5, framed photograph
Notes: See also: PP230.013

  

Box, Folder: Box 3 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.024
Description: Cummings, Eliza. Portrait of Eliza Cummings, mother to Harry Sythe Cummings and wife to Henry Cummings.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 9.25 x 11.5, framed photograph 

 

Box, Folder: Box 4 OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.025
Description: Cummings, Harry Sythe. Framed photograph of Harry Sythe Cummings, signed.
Date: Not dated
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 15.75 x 18.5 in., framed photograph

  

Box, Folder: OVERSIZED, N/A
Item ID: PP240.026
Description: Group portrait of Baltimore City Council. Harry Sythe Cummings standing in the back row, fourth from right. Handwritten on back of frame: January 3, 1937 Lent to Mr. Thomas R. Smith, for his lifetime, by his friends, Blanche J. Cummings, and Harry S. Cummings, Jr.
Date: ca. 1907
Creator: Unidentified photographer
Format: 23 x 15 in., framed photograph

 

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