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Erskine Hewitt collection of Cooper-Hewitt papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: MG.002

Scope and Contents

This collection of correspondence, notes, speeches, and other writing documents the lives and work of Peter Cooper, Abram S. Hewitt, and their families. Topics covered include family matters, property dealngs, politics, and businesses that the Coopers and Hewitts were involved in, inlcuding the Trenton Iron Company, N.J, Steel and Iron Company, and the American Sulfur Company. Texts on the creation of The Cooper Union include notes for a School of Design and the draft of a manual for the art school. Political issues addressed in these papers include labor rights, women's suffrage, "the jewish question," "the liquor question," and more. Also included in this collection are typed transcripts of two documents from the Peter Cooper papers series: "A School of Design: Peter Cooper's Early Notes" (c.1856) and "A Manual of the Art Schools of Cooper Union" (c.1857). These transcripts were created and furnished by Julian LaVerdiere (Art'93).


  • Creation: 1783 - 1933


Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restriction.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from The Cooper Union Archives and Special Collections. For more information please email

Biographical / Historical

Peter Cooper (1791‑1883) was a manufacturer, inventor, and founder of The Cooper Union. His inventions include a musical cradle, methods for making salt, glue and gelatin, and the rotary steam engine, modeled as the "Tom Thumb" locomotive. He was also involved in local and national politics as an abolitionist, advocate for Native American policy reform, and promoter of credit-based currency. In 1876 he ran for president representing the Greenback Party.

Abram S. Hewitt (1822‑1903) was a manufacturer and politician, and as Peter Cooper's son-in-law he collaborated in the creation and management of The Cooper Union. His businesses included an iron mill in Trenton, New Jersey and sulfur mining outfit called the American Sulfer Company. He served two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1886 was elected mayor of New York City as a Democrat.


13.554 Linear Feet (9 full boxes, 3 half boxes, 42 bound volumes)

Language of Materials



The Erskine Hewitt collection of Cooper-Hewitt papers is comprised of the personal and business papers of Peter Cooper, Abram S. Hewitt, and their families and colleagues. It came to Cooper Union as part of the bequest of Erskine Hewitt, and has been rearranged by staff at the Cooper Union Archives.


This collection has been arranged by creator and content type.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was received in 1938 as part of a bequest from Erskine Hewitt.

Mary Mann
May 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Cooper Union Archives & Special Collections Repository

Cooper Union Library
7 East 7th Street
New York New York 10003 United States