Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Mary Hester Cooper, September 20, 1977

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:11 - Impressions of the University of Kentucky campus, faculty, and administrators

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Partial Transcript: Um, uh, to begin with I'd like to find out when you first became associated with the University of Kentucky.

Segment Synopsis: Mary Hester Cooper talks about coming to the University of Kentucky as a student in 1921. She talks about her impressions of the campus, some of her favorite professors, and her views on President McVey.

Keywords: Aloof; Brothers; Dr. Frank McVey; English; Favorite professors; Fears; Friendly; Impressions; Mary Frances Jewell McVey; Mathematics; Personality; Professor Flora LeStourgeon; Quality of education; Relationship with students; Well-rounded

Subjects: Campus size; College administrators--Rating of; College campuses.; College majors; College presidents; College presidents' spouses; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Social conditions; College teachers--Rating of.; College teachers--Social conditions; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. Department of Mathematics; Women in education--Kentucky--Lexington; Women in higher education.; Women--Education (Higher)

00:04:42 - Social life

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um--(coughs)--did you join a sorority as a student?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about why she did not join a sorority, and discusses the attitudes towards Greek organizations on campus. She talks about the social events available for students. She talks about the atmosphere on campus during the 1920s.

Keywords: Campus organizations; Cultural activities; Cultural events; Free time; Generations; Greek letter organizations; Independents; Involvement; Labels; Participation; Rifle team; Roaring Twenties; Social life; Social organizations; Sororities

Subjects: College environment; College sports for women; College students--Attitudes.; College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Employment.; College students--Social conditions; Greek letter societies.

00:07:23 - Career after undergraduate education

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Partial Transcript: In 1925 when you returned to UK, uh, to work on your master's, you took a position as a graduate assistant in the math department.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about working as a graduate assistant while earning her master's degree. She talks about teaching at Pikeville Junior College and Lindsey Wilson College before returning to work at UK. She talks about why she took the job at UK, and describes her job duties.

Keywords: Colleges; Deans; Duties; Ezra Gillis; Graduate assistants; Head of department; Job positions; Lindsey Wilson College; Masters degrees; Mathematics; Pikeville Junior College; Registrar; Registrar's office; Registration

Subjects: College students--Conduct of life.; College students--Employment.; College teaching.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky; University of Kentucky. Department of Mathematics

00:10:32 - Ezra Gillis and the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, tell me, uh, a little bit about Ezra Gillis.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper describes Professor Ezra Gillis and talks about his creation of the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education. She talks about the purpose of the Bureau, which served to archive various university documents, and discusses her own role within the department.

Keywords: Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education; Collections; Deacons; Dedication; Ezra Gillis; Fairness; History; Objectives; Personality; Planning; Preparation; Purpose; Registrar's Office; Responsibilities; Retirement; Schools; Typing; University Archive; Work

Subjects: College histories; College publications; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:15:05 - University presidents and the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education

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Partial Transcript: Um, under what office was this bureau established and to whom did it report?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education reporting directly to the president of the university. She talks about how different presidents felt about the department.

Keywords: Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Herman Donovan; Dr. John Oswald; Ezra Gillis; Support; University Archives; University presidents; University vice presidents; Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Subjects: College administrators; College histories; College presidents; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:17:25 - Becoming a university archivist

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, then in 1956 the bureau's name was changed to University and Educational Archives and you became a university archivist.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses why the Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education became the University and Educational Archives, and talks about her new position as a university archivist.

Keywords: Age; Bureau of Source Materials in Higher Education; Changes; Ezra Gillis; Institutions; Name changes; Retirement; Training; University and Educational Archives; University archivist; Washington D.C.

Subjects: College histories; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:19:19 - Archival collections

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Partial Transcript: Um, how did you go about collecting material for the archives?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about how the archives collected their material. She talks about the types of materials that were collected, where they came from, and who did the work of putting them into the collections.

Keywords: "Who's Who in Kentucky"; Articles; Clipping file; Collecting; Diaries; Information; Lexington Herald Leader; Louisville Courier-Journal; Materials; Newspapers; Pictures; Record books; Time consuming

Subjects: College graduates; College histories; College publications; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae.; Universities and colleges--Departments; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:23:33 - Faculty support of the archives

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Partial Transcript: Um, how did the faculty, and especially the history department, view the function of the archives?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about some of the professors at the university who were interested in the archives, including Dr. Thomas D. Clark.

Keywords: Collecting; Dr. Hopkins; Dr. Thomas D. Clark; Ezra Gillis; History department; Interest; Support; University Archives

Subjects: College histories; College teachers.; Educators; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:25:23 - Changes in authority over the archives

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Partial Transcript: Alright, um, then in '63 the archives was transferred to the Office of the Vice President and in '64 it was placed under the library.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about why the archives were put under the control of the vice president of the university, and then under the university library. She talks more about the types of materials collected by the archives, and the help they received from librarian Margaret King and Jacqueline Bull, Director of the Department of Special Collections. She talks about the various buildings the archives have been located in over the years.

Keywords: Advice; Changes; Collections; Department of Special Collections; Dr. Jacqueline Bull; Holdings; J. T. Cotton Noe; Kentuckians; Margaret I. King; Moving; Reynolds Building; Service Building; Space; Time; University Archives; University publications; University vice president

Subjects: Academic librarians; College administrators; College buildings.; College facilities.; College histories; College publications; College textbooks; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:31:31 - Archive patrons

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Partial Transcript: Um, who used the archives the most?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the exhibits displayed at the archives. She talks about the journalism students who would often use the collections, and discusses the topics and types of questions users would search for.

Keywords: Canada; Display cases; Displays; Exhibits; Family history; Final exams; Genealogy; Hazing; Indexes; Journalism students; Kentucky Kernel newspaper; Kentucky University; Patrons; Reference questions; Sports; Transylvania University; University Archives; University of Kentucky; Use; Users

Subjects: Academic librarians; College histories; College publications; College student newspapers and periodicals; College students--Books and reading.; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Research; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:36:21 - Problems encountered as university archivist

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Partial Transcript: Um, what were some of the--your biggest problems that you encountered as the archivist?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about some of the problems she faced as the university archivist at UK and who assisted her with these issues.

Keywords: Dr. Jacqueline Bull; Help; LaDonna Scruggs; Library staff; Problems; Support; University presidents; University vice presidents

Subjects: Academic librarians; College administrators; College presidents; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:39:03 - Committee on Archives

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Partial Transcript: Um, I noticed in 1966 you recommended that a records management program be established.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the establishment of the Committee on Archives in order to discuss the creation of a records management program. She talks about the accomplishments made by the group.

Keywords: Advantages; Collecting; Collections; Committee on Archives; Definitions; Dr. Frank Dickey; Dr. Jacqueline Bull; Needs; Proposals; Recommendations; Records management; Records management programs

Subjects: Academic librarians; College administrators; College presidents; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

00:41:16 - Accomplishments and disappointments

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Partial Transcript: Um, what do you feel were some of your greatest accomplishments?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper discusses her accomplishments as university archivist, including her role in the creation of a war memorial at Memorial Coliseum. She talks about the process of putting the names on the memorial. She talks about some of the disappointments during her career.

Keywords: Accomplishments; Charles Atcher; Deaths; Disagreements; Disappointments; Dr. Herman Donovan; Files; Importance; John Sherman Horine; Lettering; Lists; Memorial Coliseum; Memorial Hall; Mistakes; Twins; War Memorial survey

Subjects: College histories; Education, Higher--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives; Veterans--Education (Higher)--Kentucky; World War, 1914-1918--Veterans; World War, 1939-1945--Veterans.

00:48:34 - Collecting historical data

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Partial Transcript: Okay, um, is there anything else that you would like to bring up?

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about Ezra Gillis' project of collecting historical data from all of the colleges within the university, including information on enrollment, degrees conferred, and other administrative data. She talks more about the data collected for the war memorial.

Keywords: Collections; Colleges; Data charts; Data tables; Deaths; Efforts; Ezra Gillis; Historical data; Information; Korean War; Memorial Coliseum; Senator John Sherman Cooper; University histories; War Memorial; World War I; World War II

Subjects: College graduates; College histories; College publications; Korean War, 1950-1953--Veterans; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives; World War, 1914-1918--Veterans; World War, 1939-1945--Veterans.

00:53:55 - Visual materials

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Partial Transcript: I'm not sure whether I've covered everything. It's sort of difficult to--oh, pictures. We shouldn't leave out Professor Nollau.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about some of the faculty members that contributed photographs, pictures, negatives, and slides to the archives. She talks about the archives' attempts to identify the subjects of these pictures, and how they were stored in the archives.

Keywords: A. T. Parker; Clarence Matthews; Collections; College of Engineering; Dean Melville A. Scovell; Diplomas; Dr. Alfred Peter; Files; Harrison Garman; Identification; James Wells; John Sherman Horine; Lexington (Ky.); Microfilm; Military Department; Nitrate print collections; Photographers; Photographic Service; Photographic negatives; Pictures; Prints; Professor Louis Edward Nollau; Storage

Subjects: College histories; College teachers.; Educators; Photography--Kentucky; Universities and colleges--Administration.; Universities and colleges--Departments; Universities and colleges--Faculty.; University of Kentucky. Libraries; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives

01:03:36 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well that's all the questions I have.

Segment Synopsis: Cooper talks about the work that still remains to be done in the archives, and the information that can be gained from archival materials. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Files; Information; Pictures; University Archives; Work

Subjects: Universities and colleges--Research; University of Kentucky. Libraries. Division of Special Collections and Archives