Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Cummins mss., ca. 1888-1980, consist primarily of the papers of automotive diesel engine developer Clessie Lyle Cummins, 1888-1968. Cummins was born two days after Christmas in Henry County, Indiana some forty miles east of Indianapolis. Although his formal education ended with the eighth grade, his inventive genius generated thirty-three U.S. patents over fifty-six years. He founded and was president for nineteen years of the diesel engine company that bears his name - the Cummins Engine Company of Columbus, Indiana. Salesman, entrepreneur and sportsman, he set world speed and endurance records in race cars and trucks. Living his "retirement" years in California, Cummins continued to design and develop automotive engines, fuel injection systems, a hydraulic brake system, and much more, right up until his peaceful passing in his sleep, August 17, 1968.

The collection contains correspondence, several of Cummins's technical notebooks and drawings, financial records and accounts, some photocopies of early Cummins Engine Company records, hundreds of photographs, and numerous clippings and articles about C.L. Cummins. Also present is a photocopy of his book, My Days with the Diesel (Chilton Books, 1967) and a typed draft of his memoir written in 1939: "History of Cummins Engine Company, Inc. Columbus, Indiana. By C.L. Cummins, President." The materials dating after 1968 relate to his estate and patent interests as handled by his son, C. Lyle Cummins, Jr. All of the files were collected and put together by Cummins's son during the course of his research for a biography of Cummins, Sr. A copy of that volume, The Diesel Odyssey of Clessie Cummins (Wilsonville, OR: Carnot Press, 1998) accompanies the collection.

There is a box inventory available.

Gift. C. Lyle Cummins, Jr. Wilsonville, OR 2000

Box Inventory

  • Box 1
    • Correspondence, personal papers, memorabilia, 1888-1968 (16 folders)
    • Drawings, patent sketches, blueprints (4 folders)
    • Photographs, 1888-1968 (10 folders)
    • Printed, 1888-1929 (1 folder)
  • Box 2
    • Printed, clippings, etc. 1930-1968 (11 folders)
    • Cummins Engine Co. (CECO), 1944-1962 (14 folders), including patent infringement, 1960-1962 (3 folders)
  • Box 3
    • Hydraulic Pump/Motor: DD Pump Developments & reports (3 folders)
    • Engine brake developments at Sausalito, Dec. 1956-1961; Jacobs Mfg. Co. (5 folders)
    • Jacobs Brake, 1960-1968 (2 folders)
    • Jacobs - leading to contract termination, 1969-1974 (9 folders)
    • Barrel Engine development costs, 1965-1967 (3 folders)
    • Barrel Engine marketing attempts, 1964-1977 (3 folders)
    • Barrel Engine design sketches and drawings (1 folder, also oversize)
    • Z-Crank Engine (2 folders)
  • Box 4
    • Z-Crank Engine, cont. (9 folders, also oversize)
    • Hydraulic Transmission (2 folders)
    • Water Pump designs (2 folders)
    • Mack infringement - CLC patent 3220392, 1971-1972 (9 folders)
  • Box 5
    • Financial and estate: insurance policies; tax returns (federal and state); property appraisals (15 folders, also oversize)
    • CLC early drawings and sketchbooks (3 folders)
  • Box 6
    • My Days with the Diesel - publisher agreement; transcribed tapes (5 folders); photocopy of Chilton edition, 1967
    • History of Cummins Engine Co., by C.L. Cummins, president. T.D., 1939
    • Curtis, Spencer W. History of Cummins. ca. 1944 draft [based on CLC's 1939 history] (2 folders)
    • Rotary pump data
    • Hydra-Meter fuel system
    • Patent files (13 folders)
  • Box 7
    • CLC/CLC, Jr. Patent "file wrappers," 1956-1970

Collection size: 7,500 items

NOTE: Access to this collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information.

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.