A Guide to the Oscar Henry Cooper Papers, 1880-1932, 1940
Oscar Henry Cooper (1852-1932), son of Dr. William Henry and Katherine Hunter (Rosser) Cooper, was born in Panola County, Texas. He attended Marshall University, 1865-1866, and at the age of fifteen entered Yale University, receiving his BA degree in 1872 and graduating first of his class.
In the summer of 1871 Cooper received his first teaching position at Woods Post Office near Panola. He served as president of Henderson Male and Female College, 1873-1879, and for the following two years taught at Sam Houston Normal Institute (later Sam Houston State Teachers College). Cooper wrote many articles to stimulate interest in a state university and in 1880 was chairman of a committee of the Texas State Teachers Association, which drew up a proposal urging the establishment of such an institution. He was a tutor at Yale in 1881, studied at the University of Berlin, 1884-1885, and then served as principal of Houston High School, 1885-1886. From 1886 to 1890 Cooper was the state superintendent of public instruction.
While superintendent of Galveston public schools, 1891-1896, Cooper ran the School of Methods for teachers. In 1897 he assisted W. S. Sutton in conducting a similar school in Waco. That same year Cooper became president of Baylor University, serving from 1899 to 1902, when he became president of Simmons College (later Hardin-Simmons University) in Abilene. After resigning in July 1909, he headed Cooper’s Boys School at Abilene until February 1915, when he returned to Simmons College as head of the department of education and philosophy and as chairman of the faculty. In June 1915, the University of Nashville awarded him the LL.D. degree.
A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Cooper was chosen as a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association in 1902. He was also a member of the executive board of the Conference for Education in Texas in 1907, Chairman of the committee to make a survey of the entire school system in 1921, and president of the Association of Texas Colleges in 1923. At the University of Texas he served as a part-time professor of history and philosophy of education, 1928-1929 and the spring of 1930, resigning in June of that year. He was the author of numerous articles and the co-author of History of Our Country (1895).
Cooper married Mary Bryan Stewart, granddaughter of Dr. James H. Starr, in 1886, and they had four children. He died in Abilene in 1932.
The Oscar Henry Cooper Papers, 1880-1932, 1940, include correspondence; applications and recommendations for teaching positions; newspaper clippings; notes, reports, and papers on education; historical narratives and statistics of Texas colleges and universities; university finance documents; and photographs. The papers relate to Cooper’s activities as principal of Houston High School, as state superintendent of public instruction, as superintendent of Galveston public schools, as president of Baylor University and of Simmons College in Abilene, as head of Cooper’s Boys School at Abilene, as president of the Association of Texas Colleges, and as part-time professor of history and philosophy of education at the University of Texas. Furthermore, the papers concern the establishment of the University of Texas, and contain materials related to Rufus Columbus Burleson, president of Baylor University (1886-1897).
Oscar Henry Cooper Papers, 1880-1932, 1940, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
This collection was processed by Winnie Allen, May 1936. Subsequent revisions were made by Sara Clark, March 1985.
Detailed Description of the Papers