Sam Waterston Hosts Voices from the Great Hall

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 7 - 8:30pm

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A Celebration of The Cooper Union's New Great Hall Digital Archive

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For over 160 years, The Cooper Union’s Great Hall has been a bastion of free speech, social activism, education, culture, and civic engagement – a place where leaders, performers, and everyday people have convened to address the most important issues of their time. Join us to celebrate those moments again and the launch of The Cooper Union’s extraordinary new digital resource, Voices from the Great Hall, with a special one-night-only evening of performances by some of the very artists who have previously appeared in the Great Hall. 

Oscar-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor Sam Waterston hosts the evening, returning to the very stage where he reprised Abraham Lincoln’s famous Right Makes Might address, which Lincoln originally gave at The Cooper Union in 1860. The event will feature segments of the archive’s original recordings, brought to life with large-scale projection imagery that surrounds you. Be among the first to experience again the voices of the thinkers, leaders, and creators who helped shape our city and nation, including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, National Organization for Women co-founder Betty Friedan, and author and activist Larry Kramer. WNYC's Kai Wright, host of The United States of Anxiety, will join us and, returning to the Great Hall stage for live encores will be Lincoln expert and author Harold Holzer. Ensembles from the New York Phil Teaching Artist Ensemble and Resistance Revival Chorus will perform.  

Proof of complete COVID-19 vaccination and booster and masks required. 

Voices from the Great Hall is a free, public, online archive presenting 657 original sound and video recordings made in Cooper Union’s historic Great Hall dating back to 1941,  capturing 80 years of important conversations in American cultural, intellectual, and political life. The digital archive also includes 8,900 objects, such as photographs and fliers, related to more than 3,000 Great Hall programs dating back to 1859.


Located in The Great Hall, in the Foundation Building, 7 East 7th Street, between Third and Fourth Avenues

  • 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.