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The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections

Voices From the Great Hall 

Since its opening in 1858, The Cooper Union’s Great Hall has provided a platform for social activism, education, culture, and electoral politics. The largest open space designed for public gatherings and civic functions in New York City below 14th Street when it was built, the Great Hall has hosted lectures and debates that include the earliest workers' rights campaigns, the birth of the NAACP, the women's suffrage movement, the founding of the Red Cross, and Abraham Lincoln’s February 27, 1860 “Right Makes Might” address, which propelled him to the United States presidency. Prominent thinkers from every field, including 11 aspiring, sitting, and former Presidents, have spoken from the Great Hall stage.

The Voices From the Great Hall website is a portal through which to access digitized sound and moving image recordings, photographs, press releases, announcements, and ephemera documenting events in the Great Hall at The Cooper Union from the 19th century to the present.

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The Internet Archive

As of spring 2021, The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections has begun digitizing materials and publishing them on the Internet Archive to assist our remote researchers. This collection currently includes a selection of yearbooks, student publications, commencement addresses, annual reports, and writing by Peter Cooper. New materials are added on a regular basis as privacy and rights considerations are assessed. If you'd like to make a request for digitization, or use one of these items in a publication or project, please email

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The Cooper Union Annual Reports 1860-1884

The reports include details of curricula in The School of Design for Women and the Free Night School of Science; summaries of activities in the Free Reading Room and Library, and the Vocal Music Class. Narrative reports for each school describe educational trends and goals, and often include information on the kinds of jobs obtained by program graduates. Lists of faculty and graduates are included, as are lists of students receiving certificates and prizes in the various classes, lists of Great Hall lecture topics and speakers, and lists of periodicals available in the Free Reading Room, which served thousands of people daily.

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The Cooper Union 100th Anniversary Photographs

The events depicted in this collection of photos celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, beginning with a three-day Convocation in 1956 and culminating with the 100th Anniversary Convocation on November 2, 1959. Many notable individuals addressed the guests and participated in panel discussions that were held at the Cooper Union and at various locations in Manhattan.

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Don't see what you're looking for?

The bulk of our material remains undigitized, but is accessible to view in person. Search the archives to get a sense of our materials, and view our Visit the Archives page for information on conducting research in person.

Address: 7 East 7th St, New York, NY 10003 | Email: | Phone: (212) 353-4184 |

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