The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections Receives METRO Grant

POSTED ON: January 12, 2023


Reviewing the Ledger. Photo by Marget Long

METRO, a non-profit member organization that works with New York City and Westchester County libraries and archives, has awarded The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections a grant to digitize the Ledgers and Orders of The Cooper Union’s Great Hall. The ledgers document the accounts of this historic event space from 1858 to 1956 and offer invaluable insight into American history as well as the political and civic life of New York City. Notable records include payments made by Susan B. Anthony for the Women’s Loyal National League—the first national women's political organization established by Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a payment made by a sponsor for a speech given by renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and rental of the Hall for the first meeting of the Chinese Civil Rights League. As the 19th century shifted to the 20th, these volumes document transitions in community concerns, including meetings held by the Jewish Council for Russian War Relief and Italian Anti-Fascists.

Upon completion of the 10-month digitization project, the ledgers will be added to Voices of the Great Hall, a digital archive supported by the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation that launched in May 2022, as well as to METRO’s Digital Culture of Metropolitan New York online portal and the Internet Archive. Additionally, the Archives & Special Collections will exhibit the physical ledgers to celebrate their universal digital access. 

  • 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.