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Wilmer A. Cooper manuscripts


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Wilmer A. Cooper was the founding dean of the Earlham School of Religion and a central figure in Friends United Meeting and Quaker ecumenical work in the 20th century.

Cooper was born near Columbiana, Ohio, on April 20, 1920, the son of Walter and Anna (Blackburn) Cooper. The Coopers were members of Ohio Yearly Meeting of Friends (Conservative); Cooper's uncle Cyrus was one of the yearly meeting's most influential ministers. Wilmer Cooper was educated at Olney Friends School, and then attended Wilmington College. After work in Civilian Public Service as a conscientious objector in World War II, Cooper did graduate work at Haverford College, Yale Divinity School, and Vanderbilt University, where he received his Ph.D. in theology for a dissertation on George Fox's concept of the church.

From 1952 to 1959, Cooper was the administrative secretary of the Friends Committee on National Legislation. In 1959, he joined the Earlham College faculty, charged with making a survey about the viability of a Quaker theological seminary at Earlham. The seminary opened as the Earlham School of Religion in 1960. Cooper served as dean until 1978. He then continued to teach Quaker studies part-time until 1985.

Cooper was the author of numerous books, articles, and pamphlets. Probably the best known are A Living Faith (1990) and his autobiography, Growing up Plain (1999).

Cooper took a strong interest in ecumenical work- among the different branches of Friends, with the historic Peace Churches, and in the World Council of Churches. He was the representative from Friends United Meeting to the World Council from 1968 to 1975.

Cooper married Emily Haines of Wilmington, Ohio, in 1946. She died in 2005. He died in Richmond, Indiana, on November 5, 2008.

From the Wilmer Cooper Papers finding aid, Earlham College Archives.

This collection is comprised of the two volumes of manuscripts by Wilmer A. Cooper, and includes his Master's thesis for Haverford College and a paper written while at Yale University Divinity School.


Processed by Kara Flynn; completed September, 2015.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
September, 2015
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Collection Inventory

"The Ethical Implications of Quaker Participation in Politics", 1948.
Box 1
"Provisions for Religion in the Quaker Colleges", 1950.
Box 2

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