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MC 237

Cumming, Adelaide Fish Hawley, 1905-1998. Papers of Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming, 1922-1967: A Finding Aid

Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University


Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Processed under NEH Grant Number RC 24669-76-987.

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: MC 237
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Cumming, Adelaide Fish Hawley, 1905-1998
Title: Papers of Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming, 1922-1967
Date(s): 1922-1967
Quantity: 1.05 linear feet (2 + 1/2 file boxes) plus 1 oversize volume)
Abstract: Correspondence, speeches, program scripts, etc., of Adelaide Fish Hawley Cummings, radio commentator and advertising agent.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

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.

Processing Information:

Processed: November 1976
By: Patricia Affholter

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use:

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.

Preferred Citation:

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, Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming was awarded a Ph.D. in speech education from New York University. She married Mark Hawley on December 25, 1932; their only child, Marcia, was born on April 10, 1937. On April 8, 1950, four years after her divorce from Mark Hawley, Cumming married Lawrence Cumming.
Following her graduation from college, Cumming 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.
Cumming 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. Cumming 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, Cumming 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 Adelaide Fish Hawley Cumming'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 Cumming's personal life.


Container List

Additional Index Terms

Broadcast advertising
Fashions on Parade
Harness racing
Radio broadcasting
Television broadcasting
Woman's Page of the Air
Women broadcasters
Beard, Mary Ritter, 1876-1958
Bolton, Frances Payne Bingham, 1885-1977
Crocker, Betty
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 1900-1980
Fauset, Crystal Bird
Gillmore, Inez Haynes, 1873-1970
Kemble, Fanny, 1809-1893
McBride, Mary Margaret, 1899-1976
O'Keeffe, Georgia, 1887-1986
Smith, Margaret Chase, 1897-1995
World Center for Women's Archives