G. Arthur Cooper Papers,
1923-1993 and undated,with material from 1878 to 1892
Digitized Content

Summary

Collection ID:
SIA.FARU7318
Creators:
Cooper, G. Arthur (Gustav Arthur), 1902-2000
Dates:
1923-1993 and undated,with material from 1878 to 1892
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
18.61 cu. ft. (36 document boxes) (1 half document box) (2 3x5 boxes) (1 oversize folder)
Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives

Introduction
Introduction
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.

Descriptive Entry
Descriptive Entry
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.

Historical Note
Historical Note
G. Arthur Cooper (1902- ), paleobiologist emeritus at the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), distinguished himself as an authority on the taxonomy and stratigraphy of Paleozoic brachiopods. He first developed an interest in natural history by collecting insects and minerals during his childhood in New York. During his adolescence his interest in minerals grew, and he received his B.S. degree in chemistry with a minor in geology from Colgate University in 1924. Cooper continued research on stratigraphy of upper New York state and was awarded the M.S. degree from Colgate University in 1926 on the merits of this work. Cooper continued his graduate studies at Yale University under Carl O. Dunbar and Charles Schuchert. Under Schuchert's direction, he began his study of fossil brachiopods, an interest he maintained throughout his career. He received his Ph.D. in 1929, focusing on the stratigraphy of the Hamilton formation. While at Yale, he also served as assistant curator, 1928-1929, and research associate, 1929-1930, in the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology of the Peabody Museum of Natural History.
Cooper came to the Smithsonian in 1930 as assistant curator in the Division of Stratigraphic Paleontology of the United States National Museum (USNM). In 1941, he advanced to associate curator and in 1944 to curator of the Division of Invertebrate Paleontology. He was appointed head curator of the Department of Geology in 1957, and oversaw its division into the separate departments of Paleobiology and Mineral Sciences in 1963. He continued as chairman of the Department of Paleobiology through 1967 when he was appointed senior paleobiologist. After his retirement from federal service in 1974, he continued his research at the Smithsonian as paleobiologist emeritus until 1987.
During his years as an administrator, the paleobiology staff grew from two in 1944 to twenty in 1967 as Cooper sought to fill gaps of coverage in the department. Cooper was also the motivating force behind the split of the Department of Geology into two separate departments in 1963. By implementing these changes he stimulated growth and focused research on paleobiology. He also involved himself in space planning and supervision of the move into the new wings of the Natural History Building in 1963-1965.
Cooper is well known for his research on the taxonomy and stratigraphy of Paleozoic brachiopods. His major monographs include:
Ozarkian and Canadian Brachiopoda
(1938 with E. O. Ulrich),
Chazyan and Related Brachiopods
(1956),
Morphology, Classification, and Life Habits of Productoids (Brachiopoda)
(1960 with Helen M. Muir-Wood), and
Permian Brachiopods of West Texas
, vols. 1-6 (1969-1977 with Richard E. Grant). Throughout his career, he conducted extensive field work in the United States, Canada, and Mexico, significantly increasing both the range and depth of the national collections. Under his guidance, an acid-etching laboratory was established for work with silicified fossils, notably Permian brachiopods from the Glass Mountains of Texas. He also developed his own photographic laboratory, where he produced over fifty thousand images from the collections. Many honors have been presented to Cooper over the years, including the Mary Clark Thompson Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, 1958; the Paleontological Society Medal, 1964; the Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal of the National Academy of Sciences, 1979; the Penrose Medal of the Geological Society of America, 1983; and the James Hall Medal of the New York State Geological Survey, 1986.

Chronology
Chronology
1902
Born in College Point, Long Island, N.Y., February 9
1924
B.S. degree, Phi Beta Kappa, Colgate University, Hamilton, New York
1926
M.S. degree, Colgate University
1928
Research assistant, invertebrate paleontology, Yale University
1928
Field work on Devonian stratigraphy of Hamilton Group of New York
1929
Ph.D., Yale University
1929
Research associate, invertebrate paleontology, Yale University
1929
Field work with Charles Schuchert, Gaspe, Quebec
1930 Married Josephine P. Wells
1930
Assistant curator, USNM, Division of Stratigraphic Paleontology
1931
Assistant curator, USNM, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology
1932
Field work in Gaspe, Quebec; New Brunswick; Eastern New York
1935
USNM acidizing program begun
1938
Ozarkian and Canadian Brachiopoda
published with Edward Oscar Ulrich
1939
Field work on Permian brachiopods of Glass Mountains, Texas
1941
Associate curator, USNM, Division of Stratigraphic Paleontology
1942
Associate curator, USNM, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology and Paleobotany
1942
Geological Society of America (GSA) published Devonian correlation chart with Cooper's concepts of facies, zonation, and stages
1942
Received Washington Academy of Sciences Award in the Biological Sciences
1942
Acid etching laboratory installed in NHB
1943
Field work in Sonora, Mexico, on Cambrian sequence with Alberto R. V. Arellano and Ignecio Flores
1944
Curator, USNM, Division of Invertebrate Paleontology
1945
Field work in Sonora, Mexico, completed
1953
Awarded Honorary D.Sc., Colgate University
1956
Acting head curator, USNM, Department of Geology
1956
Chazyan and Related Brachiopods
published
1957
Head curator, USNM, Department of Geology
1958
President of Paleontological Society
1958
Awarded Mary Clark Thompson Medal of National Academy of Sciences
1960
Morphology, Classification, and Life Habits of Productoids (Brachiopoda)
published with Helen Muir-Wood
1963
Department of Geology split into Department of Paleobiology and Department of Mineral Sciences; Cooper appointed chairman of Department of Paleobiology
1964
Awarded Paleontological Society Medal
1967
Resigned in February as chairman of Department of Paleobiology and appointed senior paleobiologist, NMNH
1969
Traveled to England and Poland
1969
First volume of
Permian Brachiopods of West Texas
published, with Richard E. Grant
1972
Retired from NMNH and appointed paleobiologist emeritus, February 29
1979
Awarded Daniel Giraud Elliot Medal of National Academy of Sciences
1981
Awarded Raymond C. Moore Medal of Society of Economic Paleontologists and Mineralogists
1983
Awarded Penrose Medal of GSA
1986
Awarded James Hall Medal of the New York State Geological Survey
1987
Retired from active research at NMNH as paleobiologist emeritus

Notes
Personal Papers

Using the Collection
Prefered Citation
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7318, G. Arthur Cooper Papers

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Cooper, G. Arthur (Gustav Arthur), 1902-2000 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Cloud, Preston, 1912-1991 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Muir-Wood, Helen M. (Helen Marguerite) Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Schuchert, Charles, 1858-1942 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Ulrich, E. O. (Edward Oscar), 1857-1944 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Williams, Alwyn Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Foshag, William F. (William Frederick), 1894-1956 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Grant, Richard E., 1927-1994 Personal Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Geology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Colgate University Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Yale University Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
United States National Museum. Division of Stratigraphic Paleontology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Department of Paleobiology Corporate Name Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Geology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Paleontology Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Field notes Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Manuscripts Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Maps Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white photographs Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Black-and-white transparencies Genre/Form Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Smithsonian Institution Archives
Washington, D.C.
Contact us at
osiaref@si.edu