The papers of G. Arthur Cooper offer broad documentation of his professional career. The collection documents his interest in taxonomy and stratigraphy; his scientific research on fossil brachiopods; his extensive field work in the United States, Canada, and Mexico; his curatorial duties and administrative activities in the Departments of Geology and Paleobiology, NMNH, including the development of the invertebrate paleontological collections; and his role in professional societies.
Series 1 consists mainly of the extensive correspondence Cooper maintained with scientific colleagues in the paleontological community worldwide between 1940 and 1987. Incoming and outgoing correspondence documents the exchange of ideas and information on taxonomic identifications and classifications; field work; and the loan and acquisition of fossil specimens. Scientific correspondence files also include photographs of specimens for identification; obituaries of colleagues; and nineteenth-century letters of Edward Oscar Ulrich and Thomas Davidson used for research purposes.
Series 2 contains travel and grant files, 1927-1968, that document communication with the Department while Cooper was in the field and records pertaining to grants for scientific research. It includes correspondence, memoranda, travel expense records, and itineraries from field trips, as well as grant proposals and records on Cooper's involvement in various professional societies.
Cooper's role as an administrator at the USNM and NMNH is documented in series 3. The correspondence, dated between 1933 and 1967, concerns activities of professional societies; bequests, including nineteenth-century correspondence and copies of wills and bequests; the relationship between the department and the Smithsonian Libraries; the Exhibits Modernization Program; and the opening of the paleontological halls, 1961-1963. Also included are a notebook, several manuscripts, and one folder of correspondence created by William F. Foshag during his tenure as head curator of the Department of Geology.
Overlap exists between series 1, scientific correspondence, and series 3, administrative correspondence; therefore, researchers should check both to ensure a complete search.
Series 4 consists of Cooper's manuscripts and text of speeches written before his arrival at the USNM and during the course of his career. Of special interest are Cooper's M.S. thesis, "Hamilton Group in Hamilton Township," and an incomplete draft of his Ph.D. dissertation, "Hamilton Group of New York." Oversize figures for several of these manuscripts are housed off site. It is recommended that researchers make prior arrangements with the reference staff when requesting this material.
Series 5 and 6 consist of field notes, photographs, and slides taken by Cooper during his collecting trips. Field notes and photographs from his early work in New York State, the Gaspe region of Quebec, and a variety of localities across the United States are included in these divisions. His field work and research on the Hamilton formation in New York and Glass Mountains in Texas are especially well documented.
Additional information about Cooper can be found in Record Unit 328, the chairman's files of the Department of Paleobiology, 1940-1978; Record Unit 9523, oral history interviews of Cooper; and Record Unit 9529, videohistory interviews of Cooper.