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 Descendants of James Cooper (1661-1732), prepared in 1879; largely superseded but with extensive documentary references for earliest generations.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
- Volwiler, A[lbert] T. (Ph. D.), George Croghan and the Development of Central New York, 1763-1800. The efforts of George Croghan, Indian agent and land speculator, to establish a settlement centered on Lake Otsego, and of William Cooper’s eventual acquisition of much of the “Croghan Patent”.
1931 — The Quarterly Journal
- Cooper, James Fenimore (grandson of author), William Cooper and Andrew Craig’s Purchase of Croghan’s Land. Rebuttal of Volwiler’s 1923 allegations concerning William Cooper’s 1786 acquisition of part of the “Croghan Patent”.
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).
- 1940 James Fenimore Cooper Sesquicentennnial Celebration. Description of meeting, Official Program, speeches (by Dixon Ryan Fox, Owen D. Young, and William Lyon Phelps), photographs, memorial sermon.
- McNulty, Robert (High School winner of Cooper Essay Contest), Leatherstocking and the American Spirit. Natty Bumppo is the incarnation of the American Spirit.
- Ellsworth, Waldo (First National Bank of Cooperstown), Cooperstown’s First Bank. History of the Otsego County Bank, 1830-1866, one of whose principal depositors (and check writers) was James Fenimore Cooper.
1949 New York History
- Butterfield, L[yman] H. (Princeton University), Judge William Cooper (1754-1809): A Sketch of His Character and Accomplishment. The first scholarly study of the life of James Fenimore Cooper’s father.
- Dunn, James Taylor (Librarian, New York State Historical Association), Troskolaski and Cooper. When a Polish refugee landed on Cooper’s doorstep in 1834, helping him proved not so easy.
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).
- Beard, James F., Jr. (Dartmouth College), Cooper and his Artistic Contemporaries Close ties, personal and in vision, between Cooper and his artistic contemporaries, notably Cole, Dunlap, Greenough, and Morse.
- Butterfield, Lyman H. (Institute of Early American History and Culture), Cooper’s Inheritance: The Otsego Country and its Founders William Cooper and the early history of Otsego County.
- Charvat, William (Ohio State University), Cooper as Professional Author. America’s first wholly professional writer, his publishers (especially Carey), and his income.
- Ellis, David Maldwyn (Hamilton College), The Coopers and the New York State Landholding Systems. Cooper, property, and the “anti-rent wars”; the Littlepage novels (Satanstoe, The Chainbearer, and The Redskins).
- Grossman, James (Lawyer and biographer), Cooper and the Responsibility of the Press. American freedom threatened by public opinion and an unscrupulous press; Cooper’s libel suits, Home as Found, and The American Democrat.
- Jones, Howard Mumford (Harvard University), Introduction. Introduction to James Fenimore Cooper: A Re-Appraisal.
- Parker, Arthur C. (Past President, New York State Historical Association), Sources and Range of Cooper’s Indian Lore. Cooper relied on written sources like John Heckewelder, rather than studying living Indians near Cooperstown.
- Spiller, Robert E., (University of Pennsylvania), Second Thoughts on Cooper as a Social Critic. Detailed retrospective review of Cooper scholarship from Spiller’s own 1931 treatise to 1951.
- Thorp, Willard (Princeton University), Cooper Beyond America. European enthusiasm for Cooper’s novels.
- Walker, Warren S. (Blackburn College), Elements of Folk Culture in Cooper’s Novels. Cooper’s extensive use of American folklore, proverbs, and dialect.
- Wallace, Paul A.W. (Editor, Pennsylvania History), Cooper’s Indians. Delawares and Iroquois (“Mingos”) in the Leatherstocking Tales based on Heckewelder; legend of Delaware as “women” explored.
- Whitehill, Walter Muir (Boston Athenaeum), Cooper as a Naval Historian. Importance of Cooper’s Naval History.
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
- Wright, Nathalia (University of Tennessee), The Chanting Cherubs: Horatio Greenough’s Marble Group for James Fenimore Cooper. Genesis, reception, significance, and disappearance of statue commissioned by Cooper.
1966 New York History
- Pickering, James H. (Michigan State University), Enoch Crosby, Secret Agent of the Neutral Ground: His Own Story. Often credited with being Cooper’s “model” for Harvey Birch in The Spy, Enoch Crosby in 1832 told his own story (an annotated transcription).
1968 New York History
- Pickering, James H. (Michigan State University), New York in the Revolution: Cooper’s Wyandotté. Cooper’s local historical sources for the novel, depicting the Revolution in central New York as a civil war.
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
- Van Valen, Nelson (Beloit College), James Fenimore Cooper and the Conservation Schism. In The Pioneers Cooper launched both the utilitarian (Judge Temple) and preservationist (Natty Bumppo) wings of the conservation movement.
1982 New York History
- Pickering, James H. (University of Houston), Cooper in New Dress: The Writings of James Fenimore Cooper. Background and editorial standards of the new “Cooper Edition” of the State University of New York Press in Albany, and review of the first four volumes.
1991 New York History
- Pickering, James H. (University of Houston), Fenimore Cooper as Country Gentleman: A New Glimpse of Cooper’s Westchester Years. Contrary to his public image as a happy gentlman, Cooper was undergoing desperate financial difficulties resulting in a serious breach with his wife’s family.
- Taylor, Alan (Boston University), Who Murdered William Cooper? The family tradition of William Cooper’s murder, accepted by generations of biographers and critics, is without foundation; William Cooper died a peaceful and natural death.
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
- Taylor, Alan (University of California at Davis), The Great Change Begins: Settling the Forest of Central New York The real lives of the first settlers of Otsego County (prototypes of Cooper’s The Pioneers); economic, social, and environmental.