The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections Awarded NEH Grant

POSTED ON: August 16, 2022

Archive ephemera

Materials in the archive. Photo by Marget Long

Archivist Mary Mann

Mary Mann, archive librarian, working with student. Photo by Kathryn Gamble

The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant today. The grant supports an assessment of Cooper Union’s physical archives by a trained Northeast Document Conservation Center preservation specialist who will offer recommendations for collections care, policies, storage and handling, environmental conditions, and disaster planning, as well as preservation training to Cooper staff. Additionally, the NEH grant will assist in funding the purchase of any recommended archival supplies.    

Cooper Union’s collection dates back to the 18th century and includes material on founder and inventor Peter Cooper and his family, as well as materials that tell the history of Cooper Union’s founding through present day. The archive also includes publications detailing the people, the politics, and the ideas that have helped shape the City of New York, higher education, and the nation.  These materials are in a variety of formats – including paper, parchment, photographs, audio reels, film reels, cloth, and objects – and most of them exist nowhere else.     

"An assessment like this is invaluable in helping us care for these astounding collections in the manner that they deserve, and expand access to some real hidden gems," says Mary Mann, archives librarian and the project’s director.

“NEH is proud to support the many scholars, curators, storytellers, filmmakers, and teachers who are helping preserve, examine, and share the country’s rich and expansive history and culture,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo).          

  • 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.