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Ledger and Orders of The Cooper Union: Home

Ledger and Orders of The Cooper Union

An exhibit in the library atrium, on view October-December 2023

The first female presidential candidate, a sideshow performer, a league of Chinese Americans advocating for civil rights, four magicians with a spirit cabinet, a founder of the NAACP, and a unionizing group of vaudevillians. 

What do they all have in common? 

They were all at the Cooper Union! 

We know this because they appear in the Ledgers and Orders of the Cooper Union - an invaluable record of community (and country!) concerns from 1858-1957.  

With names both big and small, serious and silly, occupying equal space on their ruled pages, the ledgers are an ideal entry point into understanding how many people and groups make up the fabric of history—not just the textbook-famous, like Abraham Lincoln (another Cooper speaker), but also the laborers, immigrants, suffragists, magicians, and actors, all of whom climbed the same stone steps that we do every day, on our way to work and school. 

Curated by Dale Perreault and Mary Mann; installed by Magnus Gomez and Nathan Feniak. The Ledgers and Orders of The Cooper Union have been digitized thanks to a generous grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO). Though the ledgers stop in 1957, the story of Cooper Union public programming continues – visit to learn more. 

Eight Hour League - September 1871 

Davenport Brothers - September 1873, 6 nights 

General Tom Thumb - November 1868, 6 nights 

Victoria Woodhull - March 1871, January 1873, October 1873, December 1875, May 1876 


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Dale Perreault
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