Cummings, Milton C., Jr. 1933–2007

views updated

Cummings, Milton C., Jr. 1933–2007

(Milton Curtis Cummings, Jr.)


See index for CA sketch: Political scientist, historian, psephologist, educator, and author. Born April 23, 1933, in New Haven, CT; died of prostate cancer, August 10, 2007, in New Vernon, NJ. From his post at Johns Hopkins University, where he taught political science for some forty years, Cummings published books that were as popular as his award-winning lectures. As a psephologist, he analyzed election data and voting patterns for several years as a television commentator for the National Broadcasting Company. Later in his career, he analyzed the history of government funding for the arts. At first glance Cummings presented a conservative image. He was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University, a research associate at the Brookings Institution, a member of the selective Cosmos Club of Washington, DC, and a researcher funded by the country's leading granting bodies. On the other hand, his books were critical of the status quo and his elections research tended to yield unexpected results, both of which contributed to the popularity of his writings. In Congress and the Electorate: Elections for the U.S. House and the President, 1920-1964 (1966), Cummings presented his analysis of four decades of election results, which revealed the growing strength of the Republican Party in the American South. Democracy under Pressure: An Introduction to the American Political System, written with journalist David Wise and first published in 1971, introduced the American political system, but placed it within the context of the political and social turmoil of the day, including civil and minority rights activism. Each update of the book reflected the evolving issues of the time, which made it immensely popular, as textbooks go, for a relatively long period of time. The Patron State: Government and the Arts in Europe, North America, and Japan (1987), which Cummings edited with Richard S. Katz, addressed government funding of the arts, from the first federal income tax deduction for charitable contributions in 1913, to the Depression-era public works projects offered as support for the creative unemployed, to the controversial grant support of artists whose work had been deemed ‘unfit’ for sundry reasons by various segments of the tax-paying public. Cummings's last book was U.S. Cultural Diplomacy, published in 2003.



Washington Post, August 25, 2007, p. B6.

Times (London, England), August 24, 2007, p. 66.

About this article

Cummings, Milton C., Jr. 1933–2007

Updated About content Print Article