Gerry and Ann Cunningham papers, 1938-2011

Overview of the Collection

Cunningham, Gerry (Gerald); Cunningham, Ann Carman
Gerry and Ann Cunningham papers
1938-2011 (inclusive)
2 linear feet, (4 boxes)
Collection Number
This collection contains materials related to Gerry and Ann Cunningham, founders of Gerry Mountaineering.
Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division
Special Collections & Archives
Merrill-Cazier Library
Utah State University
Logan, UT
Telephone: 4357978248
Fax: 4357972880
Access Restrictions

No restrictions on access, except: not available through interlibrary loan.


Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains newspaper and magazine articles written by or about Gerry and Ann Cunningham and associated outdoor product companies, pamphlets and promotional materials about camping and climbing equipment, expedition logs and DVDs, and assorted business records, memoranda, and correspondence.

Also included are materials related to other pursuits, such as sailing equipment design, sailing charts of the Gulf of California, sailing lectures and presentation materials, as well as Gerry's work in the Arizona's Energy Department and at Verde Valley School.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

From the 1940s-1970s, Gerry Cunningham (1922-2010) was a well-known outdoor equipment designer, founding his own line of outdoor products, Gerry Mountain Sports, and working for Outdoor Sports Industries and the Colorado Outdoor Sports Corporation. As a teenager, Gerry loved the outdoors and began making and selling outdoor equipment while still in high school. He married Ann Carman, also an avid mountaineer, and throughout their married life they hiked and camped all over North America, with expeditions from Maine to California and into Canada. After being drafted into the US Army in 1942, Gerry found himself in the 10th Mountain Division, where his frustrations with Army equipment evolved into a future career of creating lightweight but functional gear for enjoying the outdoors.

Gerry and Ann built a business out of designing and creating outdoor equipment, and the couple's twin sons and daughter inspired the design of the Gerry Kiddie Carrier, which allowed them to continue to explore the outdoors with young children in tow. Gerry was a creative problem solver whose creations included the triangular carabiner, the spring-loaded drawstring clamp, dual-use hiking pants with zip off legs, compact down sleeping bags and coats, and tents with exterior flexible poles that could withstand high winds. His lightweight gear was used for notable expeditions, such as the 1953 K2 expedition, Sir Edmund Hillary's first ascent of Mt. Everest in 1953, and the first American summit of Everest in 1962.

Gerry and Ann moved from Colorado to Arizona in 1973, where Gerry spent time as the Verde Valley School headmaster, Director of Energy Programs for the State of Arizona, and he and Ann built an off-the-grid earth-sheltered dome house outside of Tucson. Their interests also included sailing, particularly around the Sea of Cortez (now called California Gulf) where Gerry continued his efforts of improving gear and charting moorages, making the great outdoors more accessible to anyone with a desire to experience it.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain any necessary copyright clearances.

Permission to publish material from the Gerry and Ann Cunningham papers must be obtained from the Manuscript Curator and/or the Special Collections Department Head.

Preferred Citation

Initial Citation: Gerry and Ann Cunningham papers USU_COLL MSS 572. Special Collections and Archives. Utah State University Merrill-Cazier Library. Logan, Utah.

Following Citations:USU_COLL MSS 572, USUSCA.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top


This collection is arranged into four series: I. Personal/Biographical; II. Writings and publications; III. Business records; IV. Other Pursuits. Original folder titles were retained when possible.

Acquisition Information

These materials were donated to USU's Special Collections and Archives by Pete Cunningham, Gerry and Ann's son.

Related Materials

Gerry Cunningham photograph collection, [IN PROGRESS]

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

I. Personal/Biographical, 1951-2010Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 1
Transcript of interview by Julie Johnson (2 copies)
1 2
"Of Broken Booms and Other Things" autobiographical book and CD
2006, 2008
1 3
Anne's Anti-Litter Campaign materials
1 4
Articles about the Cunninghams, Gerry Mountaineering, Colorado Outdoor Sports, Outdoor Sports Industries, etc.
1 5
Articles about the Cunninghams, Gerry Mountaineering, Colorado Outdoor Sports, Outdoor Sports Industries, etc.

II. Writings, Publications, 1930-2010Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
1 6
Early writings, published articles
1930's to 1970's
1 7
Articles by Gerry
1 8
Articles written by Gerry from "Gerry's Vanity Book" [binder]: Better Camping Magazine
1 9
Articles written by Gerry from "Gerry's Vanity Book" [binder]: SEA magazine
1 10
Articles written by Gerry from "Gerry's Vanity Book" [binder]: SAIL magazine, other sailing articles
1 11
Articles written by Gerry from "Gerry's Vanity Book" [binder]: Energy and miscellaneous articles
2 1
"Light Weight Camping Equipment" 4th edition working copy
2 2
Our expeditions published booklets (Hunza 1957)
2 3
Swan Creek expedition log
Photographs removed and placed in Photo Collection
2 4
Indian Peaks expedition report, notes
Photographs removed and placed in Photo Collection
2 5
Ann's account of business history
circa 1970
2 6
Wilderness Traveler, Canadian High Adventure DVD's
circa 1990?

III. Gerry Mountaineering records, 1957-2011Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 7
Gerry Mountain Sports, Inc.
Includes notes on Himalayan tent, Gerry hood design template
2 9
Gerry Mountain Sports, Dale Johnson details, other notices
2 10
Advertising and promotional materials
2 12
Memoranda from Outdoor Sports Industries
2 13
Business history, financial records
3 1
Gerry Designs catalogs (child carriers and backpacks)

IV. Other Business and Professional papers, 1971-2010Return to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Box Folder
2 8
Climbing sketches stationery, camping brochures
2 11
Outdoor Sports Industries, Colorado Outdoor Sports, Delten merger agreements
3 2
Leave no trace controversy
3 3
Email correspondence with Bruce Johnson
3 4
Cruising charts, articles, CDs with of lecture presentations
3 5
Blockits sales records
3 6
Blockits instruction booklets
3 7
Blockits articles, promotional materials
3 8
Blockits Drawings
3 1
"Crusing Guide to the Lower Gulf"
3 2
"Crusing Guide to San Carlos"
3 3
"Cruising Guide to the Middle Gulf"
4 1
Arizona Department of Energy articles
4 2
Energy department materials
4 3
Verde Valley School reports, memoranda, writings
4 4
Verde Valley School papers, memos
4 5
Verde Valley School handbooks, catalogs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Backpacking
  • Camping--equipment and supplies
  • Low-impact camping
  • Outdoor recreation industry.
  • Outdoor recreation--Clothing trade.
  • Outdoor recreation--Equipment and supplies.