from the archives


A letter from the Archives:

“Dr. Cummings [sic] said:

Back in 1902 one of our students at C.C.I. was Irene Foote who was and is a splendid athletic girl fond of sports including swimming. She liked to take a plunge in the finest swimming pool at C.C.I. The only trouble she had was to take a swim and get her hair dry for the next recitation. One day she said “I am going to fix that!” So she took a big pair of shears and cut off her beautiful long hair, then took her swim and when she came out she shook her head a couple of times and was ready for recitations – all but dressing. And if the styles of 1902 had been like those of 1927 her bathing suit would have been just about the right thing without any change at all, although the skirt might have been longer.

The next day six other girls who liked to swim cut off their hair, and the vogue of bobbed hair was started and has been going ever since. It spread in this way.

The next year Miss Foote married Mr. Castle and became Irene Castle Foote (that you have all heard about). These two, Mr. and Mrs. Castle, danced their ways into the hearts of every body here and abroad.”

This letter was dictated by Mrs. Annie Blair (Titman) Cummins in May 1950, regarding a story from her late husband, Dr. George Wyckoff Cummins. To learn more about them, click here.

There are some discrepancies about dates in the letter; Irene Foote was a student here in 1906, not 1902. Born in 1893, she was thirteen when she attended Centenary Collegiate Institute. At that age, she was probably a member of the high school academy and also a member of the Diokosophian Society. The other discrepancy is that Miss Foote married Mr. Castle the following year – they actually met in 1910.

These slight variations in time bring into question the validity of the letter; a recollection told by a husband to his wife and written down almost a decade after his death may contain some errors. We still enjoy the mystery this item brings and are very pleased to have found it.




The Archives holds a wealth of information about Centenary University, and any trip into the Archives storage produces fascinating pieces of historical value. Several of these pieces were donated by prominent New Jersey family, the Cummins.

cummins030Dr. George Wyckoff Cummins was born in Vienna, New Jersey and graduated from Centenary Collegiate Institute’s college prep course in 1881. From there he attended the Yale School of Medicine and later, the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. He practiced medicine in Belvidere and specialized in the treatment of hay fever, asthma, and allergic diseases. A physician, surgeon, inventor, and research scientist, he authored many books on history, chemistry, and archaeology. Some of his works are in the library’s Special Collections Room.

cummins028Mrs. Annie Blair Titman Cummins attended Centenary Collegiate Institute in the academic program between 1881 – 1882, and in a special studies program for music from 1888 – 1891. She studied pipe organ, piano, and harmony. She was a member of several organist associations and served as organist for many years in local churches. She was also very devoted to the study of history and genealogy, compiling 423 volumes of 41,000 tombstone records from local cemeteries. She was the Organizing Regent of the General William Maxwell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and was one of the greatest authorities of local history.


Mrs. Cummins at the organ

Dr. and Mrs. Cummins were married in 1890, and lived in Belvidere, New Jersey. After the death of her husband in 1942, Mrs Cummins donated an organ to Centenary in his memory.  Mrs. Cummins donated several items to Centenary during the last decade of her life, and in her will left many possessions, buildings, and plots of land to the school. Some of the items were displayed in The Cummins Museum Room in the newly built Taylor Memorial Library. The collection was dissolved in 1980 and some of the items sold, but many still remain in the library’s archives.

A list of titles by and about the Cummins Family:

Cummins, George Wyckoff. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

– – -. History of Warren County New Jersey. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1911. Print.

Records of the Cummins, Addis, and Carhart Families of Warren County, NJ. N.p.: n.p., 1942. Print.

* Titman Cummins, Annie Blair. Bible Records, Warren County, N.J. Vol. 1 N.p.: n.p., 1941. Print. 2 copies.

– – -. Cummins-Titman and Allied Families: Genealogical and Biographical. Hartford: States Historical Company, Inc., 1946. Print.

– – -. Diary of a trip to Europe in 1909 by Margaret E. Roseberry Titman and Annie Blair Titman Cummins.

* Wycoff Cummins, G. Churches of Warren County, N.J. Vol. 3. N.p.: n.p., 1944. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Historical Articles of Warren County N.J. Vol. 2. N.p.: n.p., 1943. Print. 2 copies.

* – – -. Organization of General William Maxwell Chapter D.A.R and Markers Placed. Vol. 31. N.p.: n.p., 1945. Print. 3 copies.

* – – -. Post Offices in the United States in 1819. Comp. Annie Blair Titman Cummins. N.p.: n.p., 1945.  Print. 2 copies.



lincoln dead

The announcement of President Lincoln’s assassination. From the Cummins Collection in the Taylor Memorial Library Archives.

“The President of the United States MURDERED!!”–April 15, 2016 marks the 151st anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, the unfortunate but historically significant event that shocked a nation still suffering from the aftermath of the Civil War. Just five short days after the end of the war, southern supporter John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln at the Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. An extensive article printed in New Jersey’s Warren Journal on April 21, 1865 discusses the incident in detail including the moments leading up to the shooting, “the corpse of the late president,” and the life attempt on Vice President Johnson. Visit the library archives to view the article in full.