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Series I: Correspondence, 1813-1894

Call Number: YCAL MSS 415, Series I

Scope and Contents

The series documents Cooper's personal relationships and professional life, ranging from various ventures to his writing career and work as the American consul in Lyons, France.

Correspondence between Cooper and his publishers, most notably Richard Bentley in England and Carey & Lea in the U.S., and his stereotyper, John Fagan, provide insight into the publishing process. The costs and processes involved in printing during the nineteenth century, discussions on copyright and the issue of piracy, and concerns about marketing and sales, are well represented in this correspondence. Cooper’s relationships with publishers Lea & Blanchard, Stringer & Townsend, and G. P. Putnam are also represented, though to a lesser degree.

Cooper’s experiences while living in Europe between 1826 and 1833 can be found, for example, in his correspondence with the Marquis de Lafayette and William Cabell Rives (who was serving as minister to France). While living in Europe Cooper also worked with European publishers such as Charles Gosselin in Paris and Duncker & Humblot in Berlin.

Cooper’s involvement with, and interest in, the navy is captured in his correspondence, including his friendships with prominent naval officers William Branford Shubrick and Charles Wilkes, as well as Ned Myers (on whom Cooper based Ned Myers: A Life Before the Mast). Cooper’s correspondence with a number of naval officers who served as resources for The History of the Navy of the United States of America can be found under this title in Writings (Series II).
Scope and Contents A number of Cooper’s acquaintances were prominent lawyers and government officials, including Daniel D. Barnard, Charles Jared Ingersoll, Joseph Reed Ingersoll, and John Jay (and his sons Peter A. and William). Cooper’s friends also included Samuel F. B. Morse, merchant James de Peyster Ogden, and Charles T. Dering, with whom Cooper briefly entered the whaling business. Cooper also paid into several ventures with his niece’s husband, Horace H. Comstock, who founded Comstock (Michigan) and who was originally from Cooperstown.

Letters regarding the election of Cooper to various societies, requesting Cooper to lecture, requesting autographs, and various invitations can be found at the end of General Correspondence subseries.

The Family Correspondence subseries contains correspondence Cooper sent to his immediate and extended family and correspondence sent between family members. Correspondence sent to Cooper from family members – family names include Cooper, De Lancey, Phinney, and Pomeroy – can be found in the General Correspondence subseries.

The Third-Party Correspondence subseries is comprised of letters which could not be associated with material in the subseries above.


  • 1813-1894

Language of Materials

From the Collection: Chiefly in English; some materials are in French.

Conditions Governing Access

From the Collection: The materials are open for research.


The series is organized into three subseries: General Correspondence; Family Correspondence; and Third Party Correspondence.


5.42 Linear Feet (13 boxes)

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