Articles from New York History

Since its establishment in 1899, the New York State Historical Association has published numerous articles, many by distinguished Cooper scholars, concerning James Fenimore Cooper. They appeared at first in the Association’s Annual Proceedings, and since 1920 (as well) in its quarterly scholarly journal, first titled The Quarterly Journal, and from 1932 on New York History. In recent years, articles have generally appeared only in New York History. The frequency and significance of articles about Cooper has increased since the Association moved to its present location in Cooperstown, New York, in 1939. In 1984, the Association established a parallel quarterly magazine, Heritage, aimed at a general audience, and including (in recent years) extensive color illustrations; appropriate articles from Heritage may also be accessed from this web page.

The articles are archived here chronologically. Articles in New York History dealing with Susan Fenimore Cooper can be accessed from the Susan Fenimore Cooper page.

We wish to thank the New York Historical Association for permitting us to make these articles available online at our website.

1914 — 15ᵗʰ Annual Meeting

  • Holden, James Austin (State Historian of New York), The Lineage of Colonel George Monro. The real-life career and ancestry of Col. Munro (George Monro) of Fort William Henry, as provided by Scottish lawyer John A. Inglis.

1916 — 18ᵗʰ Annual Meeting

In 1916, long before it moved to Cooperstown, The New York State Historical Association held its 18ᵗʰ annual meeting in the village; a number of the papers concerned James Fenimore Cooper:

  • Birdsall, Rev. Ralph (Rector, Christ Episcopal Church, Cooperstown), Fenimore Cooper in Cooperstown. Local anecdotes of Cooper and his personality from oral and written sources.
  • Ball, Hon. L. Chandler (Judge, Hoosick Falls, N.Y.), The Real “Natty” an Elder Brother. Claim (ca. 1870, oft-repeated, but unsubstantiated) that one Nathaniel Shipman of Hoosick Falls, N.Y., was the original for Cooper’s Natty Bumppo.
  • Cooper, W[illiam] W[ager] (cousin of James Fenimore Cooper), Cooper Genealogy. Descendants of James Cooper (1661-1732), prepared in 1879; largely superseded but with extensive documentary references for earliest generations.
  • Holden, James Austin (University of the State of New York), The Last of the Mohicans, Cooper’s Historical Inventions, and his Cave. After criticizing and investigating Cooper’s “errors” in anachronistic use of the name “Glenn’s”, renaming Lake George as “the Horican”, and giving Col. Munro his daughters Cora and Alice, Mr. Holden (a retired State Historian of New York) explores the history of Glens Falls and its caves (with many early descriptions), the true story of Lt. Col. George Monro of Fort William Henry [continued from a 1914 article], and the bridges spanning the cave-covered island.
  • Neeser, Robert W. (Secretary of the Naval Society, New York City), Cooper’s Sea Tales. Praise for sea stories, especially The Pilot, The Sea Lions, and The Water-Witch.

1923 — The Quarterly Journal

1931 — The Quarterly Journal

1941 — New York History

The 1940 Meeting of the New York State Historical Association (August 19-September 1, 1940) commemorated the 150ᵗʰ anniversary of the arrival of the infant James Fenimore Cooper in Cooperstown in the fall of 1790. In addition to the presentation of papers (including two relating directly to James Fenimore Cooper), the 1940 Celebration included the unveiling of Victor Salvatore’s bronze statue of James Fenimore Cooper on the site of Otsego Hall in the Cooper Grounds, a special memorial service at Christ Church, and an elaborate “Pageant-Spectacle” on “Historic Cooperstown” in which much of the village’s population took part. In addition, on January 29, 1940, the Post Office Department issued the only American postage stamp ever to commemorate James Fenimore Cooper (the 2 cent red in the Famous America Authors series).

1949 New York History

1954 New York History

In 1951 the first scholarly conference on James Fenimore Cooper was held at the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown. Most of the papers presented at the meeting were subsequently published as Proceedings of the New York State Historical Association, Vol. 52, and in Hew York History, Vol. 35, No. 4 (October 1954), pp. 365-568. This was widely distributed as a separate publication: James Fenimore Cooper: A Re-Appraisal (Cooperstown: New York State Historical Association, 1954).

1956 New York History

  • Walker, Warren S. (Blackburn College), The Prototype of Harvey Birch. Identifies Abraham Woodhull and Robert Townsend (both alias Samuel Culper) as models for Harvey Birch in The Spy.

1957 New York History

1966 New York History

1968 New York History

1970 New York History

  • Baym, Max I. (Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute) and Percy Matenko (Brooklyn College), The Odyssey of The Water-Witch and a Susan Fenimore Cooper Letter . An 1886 letter to recipient of a manuscript page gives background on writing and publication of The Water-Witch, noting inter alia that Americans in 1830 Dresden were expected to be black.
  • Bender, Thomas (University of California, Davis), James Fenimore Cooper and the City. Abandoning his reliance on the rural gentleman as the backbone of society, Cooper, contrary to accepted interpretations, began by mid-century to look to the new urban commercial elite.
  • Pickering, James H. (Michigan State University), Fenimore Cooper in Our Time. James F. Beard’s new Letters and Journals of James Fenimore Cooper is an exemplary compilation casting important new light on Cooper’s life, character, and thought.

1981 New York History

1982 New York History

1991 New York History

1994 Heritage: The Magazine of the New York State Historical Association

  • Taylor, Alan (University of California at Davis), Who was Elizabeth Cooper? What the sparse materials reveal of James Fenimore Cooper’s apparently often unhappy and reclusive mother.

1995 New York History