Interview with Mary Hester Cooper, September 20, 1977

Project: University of Kentucky Oral History Project

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Interview Summary

Ms. Mary Hester Cooper came to the University of Kentucky in the fall of 1921, where she majored in Mathematics. Her brother entered U.K. at the same time. She recalls the campus was much smaller. She remembers the math department was excellent and that Miss Laura Lesturgeon was her favorite professor. Cooper was "frightened" of Dr. Frank L. McVey at first. She did not participate much in social activities; she said she was too busy. She mentions there was a rifle team for the girls. Cooper was a graduate assistant in the Mathematics department at U.K. for two years and received her Master's degree in 1927. After graduation, she accepted the position of Department Head in Mathematics and Physics at Pikeville Junior College for one year, and then transferred to Lindsey Wilson College, where she also taught for one year.

Cooper returned to U.K. in 1936 to work with Ezra Gillis, the first U.K. registrar. After his retirement from this position at the age of 70, Gillis created the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education in 1937. The Bureau reported directly to the University President's office. She recalls one of the Bureau's main objectives was to collect information on the history of higher education in Kentucky. In 1956, Gillis sent Cooper to Washington D. C. for five weeks to receive training as an archivist. After this preparation, he appointed Cooper as his replacement in the capacity of University Archivist. The Bureau's name was changed to the University Educational Archives. She discusses the types of information and materials collected for the archives, and mentions working with Dr. Thomas D. Clark. In 1963, the responsibility of the Archives was transferred to the office of the Vice-President, during Dr. John T. Oswald's tenure. In 1964, the Archives were placed under the supervision of the Library. Cooper describes the new location, and recalls Margaret I. King was extremely helpful, and donated books to the collection. She remembers her office worked closely with Jacqueline Bull, Director of the Department of Special Collections.

In 1962, Cooper asked President Frank G. Dickey to appoint a committee on archives, and lists the members. They made recommendations, gave a definition of what archives were, and what was needed for an official archives at the university, which included the proposal for a records management program. She describes the process of compiling information for the War Memorial Survey, research for the World War II Memorial, dedicated on May 30, 1950, and believes that Gillis was the first to suggest it be located at Memorial Coliseum. She mentions several people that worked on this project, including John Sherman Horine.

Interview Accession

1977oh067_af071

Interviewee Name

Mary Hester Cooper

Interviewer Name

Cathy Cooper

Interview Date

1977-09-20

Interview Rights

All rights to the interviews, including but not restricted to legal title, copyrights and literary property rights, have been transferred to the University of Kentucky Libraries.

Interview Usage

Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Interviews may be reproduced with permission from Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, Special Collections, University of Kentucky Libraries.

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Cooper, Mary Hester Interview by Cathy Cooper. 20 Sep. 1977. Lexington, KY: Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.

Cooper, M.H. (1977, September 20). Interview by C. Cooper. University of Kentucky Oral History Project. Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries, Lexington.

Cooper, Mary Hester, interview by Cathy Cooper. September 20, 1977, University of Kentucky Oral History Project, Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries.





Persistent Link for this Record: https://kentuckyoralhistory.org/ark:/16417/xt7rr49g7c15