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Ida Cullen Cooper papers


Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Ida M. Cullen Cooper

Countee Cullen


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Ida Cullen Cooper papers, 1928-1986 | Amistad Research Center

By Alana Teller

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Collection Overview

Title: Ida Cullen Cooper papers, 1928-1986Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Cullen, Ida Mae Roberson

Extent: 4.75 Linear Feet

Date Acquired: 01/01/1971

Subjects: African American art - 20th century, African American art - Collectors and collecting, African American poets - 20th century, Cullen, Countée, 1903-1946, Cullen, Ida Mae Roberson, Harlem (New York, N.Y.) - Intellectual life - 20th century, Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940, Poets, American - 20th century

Forms of Material: Sound recordings

Languages: English, French

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Ida Cullen Cooper papers date from 1928 to 1986 and consist mainly of materials that reflect Cooper's marriage to poet Countee Cullen late in his life and Cooper's efforts to promote his legacy following the poet's death. A smaller amount of material reflects Cooper's own personal life, including items related to her interest in African American and African art. This collection contains correspondence, photographs, new clippings, invitations and programs, publications, financial records, printed ephemera, and audiovisual material. The collection is divided into three series. The first reflects Ida Cullen Cooper's personal and family life, while the second concerns Cooper's efforts to promote Countee Cullen's legacy. The third contains audio recordings, mainly of interviews with Ida Cullen Cooper reflecting on her life with Countee Cullen. Correspondents of note include: Benny Andrews, Maya Angelou, Houston A. Baker, Romare Bearden, Arna Bontemps, Sterling A. Brown, Dick Campbell, Robert Cooper, Charles Cullen, Countee Cullen, Ruby Dee, Owen Dodson, Ormand Drake, David Driskell, Michel Fabre, Donald Gallup, Don and Vilma Harrington, Vivian Hewitt, Eva Jessye, Charles S. Johnson, Clifton H. Johnson, Vernon Jordan, , Richard Long, Charles B. Rangel, James R. Rhone, Sonia Sanchez, Carl Van Vechten, Hale Woodruff, Andrew Young, and representatives of Broadside Press, Harper & Row, and Leah Salisbury, Inc. A partial correspondence index is available.

Biographical Note

Ida Cullen Cooper, widow of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on January 3, 1903, to Charles and Susie Anthony Roberson. After graduating from Lincoln High School in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1921, Ida married Robert Lee Parker with whom she had a child, Norma Parker, born in 1922. Fifteen years later, she moved to New York where she was employed as a secretary to the Reverend F.A. Cullen at Salem Methodist Church until 1940. She divorced from Robert Lee Parker in August 1940, and remarried to Countee Cullen on September 27, 1940.

Cullen died six years after their union on January 9, 1946. In 1950, Ida established the Countee Cullen Foundation and worked to promote the legacy of her deceased husband. Her work resulted in the 136th Street Branch Library in Harlem being renamed for Countee Cullen in 1959, and P.S. 194 in New York being similarly renamed in 1964.

On August 5, 1951, Ida married a third time to Robert Cooper. Their marriage lasted until his death on April 2, 1966. In the following decade, Countee Cullen Elementary School was dedicated in Chicago, Illinois, in 1972 and the First Annual Countee Cullen Memorial Celebration was held on May 30, 1981, in New York. Ida Cullen Cooper died on May 3, 1986, in New York.

Subject/Index Terms

African American art - 20th century
African American art - Collectors and collecting
African American poets - 20th century
Cullen, Countée, 1903-1946
Cullen, Ida Mae Roberson
Harlem (New York, N.Y.) - Intellectual life - 20th century
Harlem Renaissance, 1920-1940
Poets, American - 20th century

Administrative Information

Repository: Amistad Research Center

Access Restrictions: This collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions: Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Physical Access Note: Audiovisual materials stored offsite. Please contact Reference Desk of the Amistad Research Center for inquiries.

Acquisition Source: Ida Cullen Cooper

Acquisition Method: Gift

Related Materials: The Amistad Research Center also houses the papers of Cooper's husbands, Countee Cullen and Robert Cooper.

Preferred Citation: Ida Cullen Cooper papers, Amistad Research Center, New Orleans, LA

Processing Information: Collection processed in November 1988; reprocessed in June-July 2013.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Ida M. Cullen Cooper],
[Series 2: Countee Cullen],
[Series 3: Audiovisual],

Series 1: Ida M. Cullen CooperAdd to your cart.

Series one includes Cooper's personal correspondence (1938-1968), which contains a series of letters written by her to Countee Cullen during 1944-1945, the latter written while Cullen was in Los Angeles working on St. Louis Woman. The correspondence is that of a wife to a husband who is away as Cooper provides updates on her life and the health of Cullen's ailing father. Letters from early 1946 consist mainly of condolence letters received by Cooper following Cullen's death. Cooper's position as co-founder of Afro-Arts Bazaar, along with Etta Moten Barnett and Estelle Massey Osborne, is documented by correspondence, photographs, business records and publicity, including a typescript article on the Bazaar written by Langston Hughes for the March 3, 1951, issue of the Chicago Defender.

Photographs include those of Ida Cullen Cooper and family members, including photographs of her marriage to Robert Cooper in 1951. Photographs of Ida Cullen Cooper and Clifton H. Johnson, Executive Director of the Amistad Research Center, document the donation of Countee Cullen's personal papers to the Center. Others documented in the photographs include Jane White, daughter of Walter White, and Etta Moten Barnett. Biographical materials include a copy of Ida Cullen Cooper's will. The remainder of series one includes various collected materials, including writings, drawings, programs, invitations, playbills, publications, and news clippings that reflect Cooper's interests and her art collection.

Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence: family, 1938-1950Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence, 1943-1946Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence, 1947Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence, 1948Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence, 1949Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence, 1950-1957Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence, 1958-1960Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence, 1961Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Correspondence, 1962-1969Add to your cart.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence, 1970-1986Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 3: Afro-Arts Bazaar: correspondence and records, 1949-1953, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 4: Afro-Arts Bazaar: photographs, 1952Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Notes, 1951-1981, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Biographical materials, 1940-1986, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Certificate: Citizen's Committee for All-Day Neighborhood Schools of the Public Education Citation, 1965Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Photographs: Ida Cullen Copper and family, 1937-1950, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 9: Photographs: Ida Cullen Copper and Clifton H. Johnson, 1969Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Photographs: Other individuals, 1950, 1962, undatedAdd to your cart.
Etta Moten-Barnett, Jane White (daughter of Walter White), unidentified woman
Folder 11: Photographs: Other, 1969, undatedAdd to your cart.
Tree and Countee Cullen portrait by Hale Woodruff
Folder 12: Drawing: Norma Parker, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 13: Financial records, 1963-1966Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Property records, 1946-1947Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Register of guests of Ida Cullen Cooper's home, 1971-1975Add to your cart.
Box 3Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Invitations, 1946-1981, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 2: Collected poetry: manuscripts, 1952, undatedAdd to your cart.
Includes typescripts of poems by Angela B. Hawley and Francois Clemmons
Folder 3: Collected publication: The Lighter, Fall 1984Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Collected writings and drawings, circa 1950, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Collected programs: theater, 1946-1978, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 6: Collected programs: cultural events, 1947-1980, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 7: Collected programs: memorial services, 1962-1980Add to your cart.
Folder 8: Collected programs: Salem Methodist Church, 1947-1950Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Collected programs: other, 1945-1985Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Collected address by Vivian Hewitt, 1978Add to your cart.
Acceptance Speech of Vivian D. Dewitt, as Distinguished Alumna, 1978 at the University of Pittsburgh/ Carnegie Library School's Alumni Association's Annual Banquet at SKIBO Hall, Carnegie-Mellon University, Friday April 14, 1978
Folder 11: Collected articles, speeches, recordings, and publications by others, 1955-1984, undatedAdd to your cart.
"The Negroes Among Us" By Albert Q. Maisel, The Outer Reaches: The White Writer and Blacks in the Twenties by Richard A. Long, Ambassador Andrew J. Young, Jr.'s Speech - Black History and Culture Week, Remembering Owen Dodson by Aaron Kramer, "Liberty Deferred" by Abram Hill and John Silvera, "All Around the City" by Joy Gurewitz
Folder 12: Collected religious publications, 1938-1943Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Collected business cards and typescript list of names and addresses, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 14: Collected items: African Art, etc., 1934-1962Add to your cart.
Folder 15: Catalogues of manuscripts about African American history, 1966-1974, undatedAdd to your cart.
Negro Authors by University Place Book Shop, Books by Negro Authors by University Place Book Shop, Scarce, Rare, Out of Print and Used Books on Black America Race and Racism by McBlain Books, Catalogue Forty-Three Black Literature in First Editions by Paul Breman Limited
Folder 16: Broadside Press Ephemera, 1969, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 17: List: items in art collection of Ida Cullen Cooper, circa 1980, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 18: Loans to galleries by Ida Cullen Cooper, 1977-1985Add to your cart.
Folder 19: Announcements and invitations: galleries and exhibitions, 1961-1984Add to your cart.
Folder 20: Programs, newsletters and other printed information, 1974-1980, undatedAdd to your cart.
Box 4Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Collected books: Chefs d'Oeuvre de l'Art series , circa 1965-1969Add to your cart.
Utrillio (1965), Ribera (1968), Donatello (1969), Michel-Ange (1969), Verrocchio (1969), Tintoret (1968)
Folder 2: Collected items: Community Church of New York, 1946-1982Add to your cart.
lectures, membership information, newsletters, notes
Folder 3: Collected items: other organizations, 1948, 1967-1986, undatedAdd to your cart.
ACT/Harlem Teams Alumni, AMAS Repertory Company, Democratic Liberal Party, Harlem Hospital
Folder 4: Press clippings: preservation copies, 1933-1986, undatedAdd to your cart.
Folder 5: Press clippings: original copies, 1933-1986, undatedAdd to your cart.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Ida M. Cullen Cooper],
[Series 2: Countee Cullen],
[Series 3: Audiovisual],

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