Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
Collection: Ledgers and Orders of the Great Hall
Description: The Great Hall is one of The Cooper Union’s most storied and treasured resources. Since it first opened in 1858, it has played host to intellectuals, artists, musicians, inventors, and political leaders who have gathered to express, discuss and debate the most important issues of the day.
The Ledgers and Orders of the Great Hall document the accounts of this historic event space from 1858 to 1956. As a record of speaker fees and events put on The Cooper Union’s publicly accessible Great Hall, these volumes provide valuable insight into the civic and political life of New York City. Each volume chronicles talks by prominent abolitionists, suffragists, and pioneering advocates for civil rights and labor reforms. Notable records include payments made by Susan B. Anthony for the Women’s Loyal National League—the first national women's political organization established by Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a payment made by a sponsor for a speech given by renowned abolitionist Frederick Douglass, and rental of the Hall for the first meeting of the Chinese Civil Rights League. As the 19th century shifted to the 20th, these volumes document transitions in community concerns, including meetings held by the Jewish Council for Russian War Relief and Italian Anti-Fascists.