The Cooper Union History Project

Introduction | On-Line Sources | Other Sources


Welcome. The Cooper Union History Project website is a space to publish research on Cooper Unionís history with the aim of amassing a faithful representation of the principles, aims, and lessons of Cooperís past and present.

The past does not change, but our knowledge of it is always increasing. This website includes various forms of documentation: writings, images, graphics, videos, and oral and aural recordings, as well as links to other websites where such documentation is maintained. A list of important sources is below.

In some ways, the Cooper Union has changed in profound ways since its opening in 1859. Also, the college has been remarkably static since the 1970's, compared to its earlier days. As it is for students and many faculty, staff, and alumni, it can seem that the Cooper Union has always been what it is now, or what it was when they were an active part of it.

On the other hand, there have been traditions and policies that date back farther than anyone could imagine. Although any historian would be reluctant to claim that any evidence is the "first," this website contains the earliest discovered and confirmed occurrences of:

If any earlier occurences are discovered, please report them to the Cooper Union History Project by writing to the current webmaster, Barry Drogin, at! Similarly, if you have important collections of writings, images, graphics, videos, or recordings that are available on-line, please provide us with a link!

You will find across the top of every page links to the contents of this website, starting with historical summaries of the lives of Peter Cooper and his family, then tracing the history of the college from before its founding until 2016, historical information about other related entities such as the Great Hall, historical information on student life and alumni activities, collections of memorabilia and oral histories, and activities that the CUHP is currently involved in or that you, as a member of the Cooper Union Community, may be interested in participating in or contributing to. Finally, the last page is a history of the CUHP itself.

Some truths are half-truths; they are true, but the narratives they support are incomplete. Some truths are actually myths. Our knowledge of the past is always increasing. Thank you for your interest in the Cooper Union History Project!

On-Line Sources

The Cooper Archive

  • Charter of the Cooper Union
  • Deed of Trust
  • Letter to the Trustees
  • Address, November 2, 1859
  • Annual Reports AY 1860-1884 (missing AY 1862, AY 1863, AY 1865, AY 1867)
  • Cooper Union Alumni Affairs and Development

    Project Gutenberg

  • Raymond, Rossiter Worthington. Peter Cooper.
  • Google Books

  • Library of University of Illinois. Annual Reports AY 1860-1880 (missing AY 1862, AY 1863, AY 1865, AY 1867, AY 1868, AY 1872, AY 1876).
  • Library of University of Illinois. Annual Reports AY 1881-1890.
  • Library of University of Illinois. Annual Reports AY 1891-1900.
  • Library of University of Illinois. Annual Reports AY 1901-1905.
  • Library of University of Michigan. Annual Report AY 1908.
  • Library of University of Illinois. Annual Reports AY 1917-1926.
  • Clarke, Isaac Edwards. Art and Industry: Instruction in Drawing applied to the Industrial and Fine Arts as given in the Colleges of Architecture and the Mechanic Arts, and in the Public Schools and other Public Educational Institutions in the United States, 1897, pp. 348-447.
  • Lester, Charles Edwards. Life and Character of Peter Cooper. 1883, 116 p.
  • Hughes, Thomas. Life and Character of Peter Cooper. London, MacMillan and Co, 1886, 245 p.
  • Zachos, John Calivigerous. The Political and Financial Opinions of Peter Cooper with an Autobiography of his Early Life. New York, Trow's Printing and Bookbinding Company, 1877, 91 p.
  • Ringwood Manor

  • The Cooper & Hewitt Families
  • USC Digital Library

    CUHP Website

    CUHP Members


    Other Sources

    The Cooper Archive

  • Collection Guides
  • Mack, Edward C. Peter Cooper, Citizen of New York. New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1949
  • Spalding, Charles Sumner. Peter Cooper: A Critical Bibliography of his Life and Works. 1941.
  • Nevins, Allan. Abram S. Hewitt: with some account of Peter Cooper. New York, Harper, 1935
  • Chronology of Peter Cooper, the Cooper-Hewitt family and the Cooper Union 1662-1939. New York, n.d.

  • Abbreviations:

    CY = Calendar Year; AY = Academic Year = July of CY-1 through June of CY; FY = Fiscal Year = CY (AY 1908 and before) = AY (AY 1917 and later)

    The Cooper Union History Project website is currently maintained by Barry Drogin. This page last updated: June 28, 2023.