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MC 237

Cumming, Adelaide Fish Hawley, 1905- . Papers, 1922-1967: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America


Processed under NEH Grant Number RC 24669-76-987.
Radcliffe College
November 1976

© 1976 Radcliffe College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 237
Repository: Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute
Creator: Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming, 1905-
Title: Papers, 1922-1967
Quantity: 2-1/2 file boxes, 1 oversize volume
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, program scripts, etc., of Adelaide Fish Hawley Cummings, radio commentator and advertising agent.

Processing Information:

Processed: November 1976
By: Patricia Affholter

Acquisition Information:

Accession numbers: 1189, 1322, 76-417
The papers of Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in July 1967 by Priscilla Gough Treat and in 1968 and 1976 by Adelaide Cumming.

Preferred citation for publication:

Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming. Papers, 1922-1967; item description, dates. MC 237, folder #. Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


Adelaide Fish was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on March 6, 1905. She graduated from Cincinnatus (New York) High School in 1922 and in 1926 received her bachelor's degree in music from Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. In 1967, AFHC was awarded a Ph.D. in speech education from New York University. She married Mark Hawley on Dec. 25, 1932; their only child, Marcia, was born on April 10, 1937. On April 8, 1950, four years after her divorce from MH, AFHC married Lawrence Cumming.
Following her graduation from college, AFHC taught music for two and a half years at the Alabama College School of Music in Montevallo. She then returned to New York, intending to pursue a career in opera, but instead joined a trio which sang in vaudeville, on the radio, and in churches.
AFHC began her thirty-year broadcasting career in 1935. She narrated numerous radio and television programs including: "The Woman Reporter", "Woman's Page of the Air", and "News of the Day" (an MGM newsreel). Many of her radio shows and personal appearances focused on the world of fashion; her program, "Fashions on Parade" (1948-1949) was television's first such show. AFHC took on the role of Betty Crocker in 1950; she portrayed BC on television and radio until 1964, when General Mills changed its advertising campaign and when she left broadcasting. Throughout her career, AFHC appeared as a guest speaker at numerous functions, ranging from a luncheon of the Advertising Club of Boston to 4-H Club banquets. In addition, she wrote the scripts for many of the programs in which she appeared, as well as several articles and stories.


The bulk of this collection documents AFHC's role as a radio commentator. Program scripts, correspondence, articles, and speeches from this period (1935-1948) reveal the variety of topics she treated, most of which were about women; these include: the role of women in American history, women harness race drivers, Fanny Kemble, the World Center for Women's Archives, and the importance of women voters. Papers about her role as Betty Crocker consist mainly of promotional literature and speeches; much of this material reflects her activities as an advertising agent for General Mills. There is very little information about AFHC's personal life.



Additional catalog entries

Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958
Bolton, Frances P., 1885-
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 1900-
McBride, Mary Margaret, 1899-1976
O'Keeffe, Georgia, 1887-
Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-
Crocker, Betty
Fauset, Crystal Bird, -1965
Irwin, Inez Haynes, 1873-1970
Radio broadcasting
Speeches, addresses, etc.
Television broadcasting
World Center for Women's Archives