Byron Cummings


Byron Cummings
Byron Cummings at Rainbow Bridge, 1909.JPG
Byron Cummings at Rainbow Bridge, 1909
Biographical details
Born(1860-09-20)September 20, 1860
Westville, New York
DiedMay 21, 1954(1954-05-21) (aged 93)
Tucson, Arizona
Alma materOswego Normal (1885)
Rutgers (1889)
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Head coaching record

Byron Cummings (September 20, 1860 – May 21, 1954) is known as the dean of Southwestern archaeology. Cummings served as the University of Arizona’s 9th president (1927-28), Arizona State Museum’s first director (1915-38), founding head of UofA's Department of Archaeology (1915-37), and the founder of the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society (est. 1916).

Cummings was by all accounts a remarkable man. Remembered as the Dean of Southwestern Archaeology, he was an energetic teacher and brilliant scholar. He was also an American football coach and professor at the University of Utah.[1] He served as the head football coach at the University of Utah 1897 where he was also a professor from 1893 to 1915.[2] He later served as a professor at the University of Arizona, where he became president.[3]

Southwestern archaeology

Professor Cummings did pioneering archaeological fieldwork in the early 1900s in southern Utah's San Juan country. Archaeologist Neil Judd, then Cummings' student, assisted in this work, as did other of Cummings' field students.

Cummings was the first to discover Pleistocene man in southern Arizona and his discoveries led to the eventual recognition of the Cochise culture that has been dated to before 6,000 B.C. He authored numerous articles, pamphlets and books about Southwestern cultures based on the sites and ruins he explored. One of his dreams was realized when in 1936 the doors of a new Arizona State Museum building were opened to the public. He retired from the department of archaeology in 1937 and from the museum in 1938, but remained Director Emeritus until his death in Tucson in 1954 at the age of 93.

Discovery of Rainbow Bridge, 1909

Prof. Cummings was co-head of the US party attempting to be the first Americans to visit this landmark, along with William B. Douglass, Examiner of Surveys for the General Land Office. John Wetherill organized the Cummings expedition. There had been apparent friction between Cummings and Douglass over who would be the first to visit Rainbow Bridge. On August 14, 1909, the party reached the Bridge. Cummings and Douglass both spurred their horses in an attempt to be the first Americans to ride under the bridge. John Wetherill saw what was happening and, being closer to the bridge, went on ahead and rode first under the span. [4]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Utah Utes (Independent) (1897)
1897 Utah 1–5
Utah: 1–5
Total: 1–5


  1. ^ "Byron Cummings". Utah History. Retrieved July 10, 2018.
  2. ^ Tanner, Clara Lee (1954). "Byron Cummings". Kiva. 20 (1): 1–20. JSTOR 30247958.
  3. ^ Judd, Neil M. (1954). "Byron Cummings". American Anthropologist. 56 (5): 871–872. doi:10.1525/aa.1954.56.5.02a00120.
  4. ^ Judging Byron and Isabelle Cummings by the Content of Their Character, by David R. Wilcox, Arizona State Museum, Dec. 2016.

External links