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The Cooper Archives

About this collection

The Cooper Union Annual Reports collection consists of the scanned annual reports produced by the trustees of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City. The original reports are held in the Cooper Archives of the Cooper Union Library.

The Cooper Union was founded in 1859 by industrialist and inventor Peter Cooper, a workingman’s son with little formal education, who wished to provide a free education to young men and women “who had no better opportunity than I.” Cooper’s institution also provided a public reading room and library, and an auditorium – The Great Hall – that offered a meeting place for social and political organizations, and presented free lectures and performances for the edification of the public.

Access to the Cooper Union reports may enhance scholars’ understanding of working-class education and female professionalism in 19th century U.S. cultural history. These early annual reports provide valuable information for researchers interested in the development of education in art, science, and engineering, and in the development of continuing (adult) education. The reports are also a rich source of information for those interested in early women artists in the United States.

The reports include details of curricula in The School of Design for Women, and the Free Night School of Science, and summaries of the activities in such departments as the Free Reading Room and Library, and the Vocal Music Class. Narrative reports for each school describe educational trends and goals, and often include reports of the kinds of jobs obtained by program graduates. Lists of faculty and graduates are included, as are lists of students receiving certificates and prizes in the various classes. The reports offer information about the working-class backgrounds of the students, in the form of tables listing the “day jobs” of students in the Night School. Financial reports for the institution are included, as are lists of Great Hall lecture topics and speakers, and even such details as the titles of periodicals available in the Free Reading Room, which served thousands of the city’s people daily.

The collection is missing Annual Reports no. 3 (1862), no.4 (1863), no.6 (1865) and no.8 (1867). Efforts are being made to locate the missing reports in other libraries.

 

For current information about the Cooper Union, visit the college's website at http://cooper.edu.

The Cooper Union Library website is at http://library.cooper.edu.

 
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