This collection contains 82 letters and 6 additional items related to the Cummings family of Vermont, and to George B. Durant of Boyd, Kentucky, Avery Cummings's brother-in-law. Durant composed most of the letters, mainly addressed to his sister, Eliza Ann Durant Cummings, and her family in Montpelier, Vermont. Between 1859 and 1914, he wrote about his life in West Manchester, Pennsylvania; Cambridge City, Indiana; and Boyd, Kentucky. He sometimes commented on political matters and current events, including the presidential elections of 1860 (May 10, 1860, August 12, 1860, and August 25, 1860), 1864 (September 23, 1864), 1908 (February 6, 1909), and 1912 (August 22, 1912); the Sayers/Heenan prize fight (May 10, 1860); and the murder of several women in Chicago and the execution of Mrs. Mary Rogers (January 14, 1906).
On September 4, 1862, he described a trip he and his wife took to Cincinnati, Ohio, then under martial law; upon returning to Kentucky, he noted the presence of Confederate forces. Many of his early letters mention religion, including some notes on the origin of the Koran (September 4, 1859). He also discussed his work, which included a job at the Western Pennsylvania House of Refuge between 1859 and 1860, as well as a position as president of a female college in Kentucky (July 12, 1874). Following the death of his sister, he wrote to her son, David Willis Cummings ("Willis"), who remained in Montpelier. Most of his late letters concern family health and other news.
The remainder of the correspondence consists of letters written between members of the Durant and Cummings families. In one letter, T. S. Cummings told his uncle, Avery Cummings, of the reputation of girls in Providence, Rhode Island, and of his resolve to relocate there from Hartford (October 21, 1855). Two later letters from Philena M. Clifford of Danville, Vermont, provide details of the Clifford family genealogy (September 28, 1872 and April 10, 1874).
Additional material includes an unlabeled photograph, a contract between Eliza Ann Cummings and the Vermont Methodist Seminary and Female College (February 11, 1884), a contract between Avery Cummins [sic] and Orin Pithin (August 28, 1841), genealogical notes, and a manuscript diagram of the water pipe system of a house (undated).