History of Medicine
About the Project
In His Own Words: Martin Cummings and the NLM is a searchable, online edition of annual Congressional appropriations testimonies and selected speeches and articles by former NLM director Dr. Martin M. Cummings, based on the collection of his papers in the Library’s Modern Manuscripts collection. This project represents the NLM’s ongoing commitment to collecting materials related to its own institutional history – as part of the NLM Archives – as well as to digitizing these collections and making them widely available for the benefit of researchers, educators, and students.
This collaborative project has its roots in the interests and expertise of Dr. Cheryl Dee, at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science and Florida State University School of Library and Information Services. Over the course of more than five years, Dr. Dee worked with Dr. Cummings, researched the collection of his papers at the Library, and interviewed Dr. Cummings about the events and people mentioned in these documents so as to provide context to the materials. Additionally, Dr. Dee transcribed and edited relevant excerpts of the appropriations statements for Dr. Cummings to listen to via text-to-speech software. Using these excerpts as memory guides, Dr. Dee subsequently interviewed Dr. Cummings for his reflections on these passages. She then assembled, edited, analyzed, and indexed the commentaries. NLM staff provided technical expertise to produce this online edition.
Senate appropriations commentaries
Commentaries provided by Dr. Cummings, through interviews with Dr. Dee, enhance his Senate appropriations statements. These enhancements document Dr. Cummings's opinion that together, the testimonies and commentaries offer the most valuable window into NLM's program development from the 1960s to the 1980s. After reflecting on those testimonies, and the subsequent question and answer sessions defending them, Dr. Cummings's commentary provides contextual insight on significant turning points in the Library's history and the political personalities that influenced them.
A note on the speeches
In his own words writing to Dr. Dee, Dr. Cummings once explained that since he "... over used titles of speeches [it] is important to note that speeches with the same title are not exactly the same. The topic and some of the content will be similar but the speech is completely adapted to the audience.... I do not wish future readers of the speeches to assume that what appears on the printed page in my speeches is what was delivered to the audience."
Dr. Cummings was also deeply appreciative of the contributions his staff made to his speeches: "Many speeches that I gave had portions written by the staff in appropriate departments at the National Library of Medicine giving the facts and statistics from their area. I want to give credit to their fine work."