Voices from the Great Hall

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The Cooper Union, in partnership with the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, has launched Voices from the Great Hall, a project to digitize and preserve eight decades of incredible recordings and nearly 160 years of Great Hall program materials.

Dating back to the 1930s, The Cooper Union has made recordings of numerous speeches and lectures that took place on the stage of the Great Hall. The collection includes over 3,200 reel-to-reel tapes, approximately 2,000 audio cassettes, approximately 100 audio-video, and 50 vinyl recordings. Among the voices captured are poets and authors Dylan Thomas and Carl Sandburg; artist Lee Friedlander; American cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead; Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Thurgood Marshall; architect Louis I. Kahn; psychologist and writer Timothy Leary; feminist, journalist, and social political activist, Gloria Steinem; political figures such as New York City mayors Ed Koch, Fiorello LaGuardia, David Dinkins, Michael Bloomberg, and Bill de Blasio; NY Governors Mario Cuomo and Thomas E. Dewey; and Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. 

Over the course of this two year-project, Cooper Union will rehouse and survey the collection holdings, digitize and electronically preserve the recordings, and establish an online database for the archive of newly digitized materials. As the digitized works become accessible, they will be explored by researchers, utilized in Great Hall public programs curated to highlight how moments of our nation’s past might inform our choices for our future, and further disseminated through a Voices from the Great Hall podcast series.

For more see $760K Grant Will Digitize Decades of "Lost" Great Hall Recordings

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.