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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 393

Papers of Lorraine Rowan Cooper, 1936-1983


Correspondence, scrapbooks, photographs, etc., of Lorraine (Rowan) Cooper, speaker, hostess, columnist, and wife of John Sherman Cooper, U.S. Senator.


  • 1936-1983

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Lorraine Rowan Cooper is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


1.25 linear feet (3 file boxes) plus 17 folders of photographs, 1 folio folder of photographs, 3 reels of microfilm (M-128)
The collection, which consists of Lorraine Rowan Cooper's correspondence, newsletters, scrapbooks, and photographs, can be divided into five main categories: the ceremonial correspondence and memorabilia of a political wife, drafts and clippings of the newspaper column that Lorraine Rowan Cooper wrote for many years, clippings (mostly from Kentucky newspapers) outlining her husband's political career, a small amount of personal and family correspondence, and, most telling, the documentation of an influential and public social life.

The eleven scrapbooks (48v-58v), which cover the years 1955 through 1969, are arranged chronologically and include clippings, photographs, letters, and programs, all documenting the political and social lives of the Coopers. Correspondence folders (#2-13) contain similar material, dating for the most part from 1972 through 1983. Drafts of Lorraine Rowan Cooper's newsletters are in #14-22, and photographs, both personal and official, in #23-47; many of these are not identified.

The papers of John Sherman Cooper are in the Special Collections Department of the University of Kentucky Library (see 59v).


The daughter of Robert Arnold Rowan and of Laura Madeline (Schwarz) Rowan (later the Princess Orsini), Lorraine (Rowan) Cooper was born in Pasadena, California, on December 18, 1906. She was educated at the Westbridge School in Pasadena, at St. Timothy's School in Stephenson, Maryland, and at Miss Nixon and Miss Sheldon's School in Florence, Italy. She was a volunteer worker for the Inter-American Affairs Council in New York City (1943-1946) and at the first United Nations conference in San Francisco in 1945.

Two marriages, to Robert McAdoo and Thomas Shevlin, ended in divorce; in 1955 Lorraine Rowan Cooper married Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky and the couple departed immediately for India and Nepal, where John Sherman Cooper was ambassador. They returned to the U.S. in 1956; John Sherman Cooper served in the Senate from 1957 to 1973 and was among the Republican Senators who opposed the widening of the Vietnam War into Cambodia in 1970. From 1974 to 1976 the Coopers lived in East Berlin, where John Sherman Cooper was the first official United States representative to the German Democratic Republic. The couple had no children.

For many years Lorraine Rowan Cooper wrote a Washington newsletter for Kentucky newspapers, which appeared as a column in as many as seventy papers at a time. In it she reported to John Sherman Cooper's constituents on Washington pageantry and on cultural and social events, but true to her expressed philosophy of appropriate behavior for a Senator's wife, she rarely strayed out of the realm of the personal and ceremonial. Similarly, when she spoke she focused on issues traditionally of concern to women and tended not to take open political stands.

Lorraine Rowan Cooper was a member of the National Society of Arts and Letters and the American Newspaper Women's Club. She served on the boards of directors of The Asia Foundation (San Francisco), The Asia Society (New York), and the Frontier Nursing Service of Kentucky. She was also an influential social personage among the powerful of both parties; her invitations were prized, as Patricia Moore of the Chicago Daily News Service noted, "no matter who [was running] the government."

Lorraine Rowan Cooper died in Washington, D.C., on February 3, 1985.

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 74-305, 74-344, 75-14, 75-56, 79-M141, 80-M43, 80-M159, 81-M64, 81-M236, 82-M179, 83-M211, 89-M113, 89-M69.

The papers of Lorraine (Rowan) Cooper were given to the Schlesinger Library by Lorraine Rowan Cooper in November and December 1974, January and February 1975, June 1979, March and August 1980, March and October 1981, September 1982, and October 1983, and by her husband, John Sherman Cooper, in April and June 1989. The papers included thirteen scrapbooks, eleven of which have been microfilmed due to their fragility and two sent to the University of Kentucky Library.


The scrapbooks of Lorraine Rowan Cooper were microfilmed because of their fragility. Items such as correspondence, programs, and most photographs, were preserved and are available to researchers. The clippings are available only on microfilm. Two oversized folders of clippings were also microfilmed.

Scrapbook pages were numbered by the processor to aid the microfilmer, the proofreader, and the researcher.

Information added by the processor, such as page numbers or dates, is enclosed in square brackets.

The film was proofread by the processor and corrections made where necessary. These corrections may disrupt the sequence of frame numbers. Although care was taken to insure that the material be as legible as possible, the condition of some of the volumes and items made microfilming very difficult. For instance: 1. The paper was brittle. In some of the scrapbooks pages were so tightly bound that they could not be fully opened. 2. Some photographs were faded, some were out of focus, and others were in color. 3. There were few captions and many of these were smeared or faded. 4. Some clippings overlapped, and many articles were folded and creased. 5. Some photocopies of clippings were faded. 6. In some cases pencil notations had faded.

In some cases there was writing on the backs of photographs which could not be read because of the way the photograph was affixed to a scrapbook page. Whenever a caption was visible a transcription was provided by the processor.

All photographs in the scrapbooks were microfilmed. Prints of some are available in the photograph folders of the collection (#28-47).

Many pages had to be filmed more than once for one or both of the following reasons: 1. Folded and/or multiple-paged items, such as Christmas cards, clippings, or programs. 2. Postcards or photographs that were hinged to make the text on the reverse side accessible.

Loose items that obviously belonged where they were found were filmed there. Other loose items were filmed at the end of the volume in which they were found.

In many cases, enclosures referred to in letters were missing.

Multiple-page items that are readily available elsewhere (e.g., Congressional Record, government publications, and speeches that are part of the public record) were not filmed in their entirety, but only the pages needed to establish name and date of publication. In the case of programs or magazines containing material about the Coopers, the pages containing this material were filmed as well. Annotated items, however, were filmed in their entirety. In all cases where filming was not complete, a target to this effect has been affixed to the item.
  1. MC 393 48v-52v: M-128, reel 1
  2. MC 393 53v-56v: M-128, reel 2
  3. MC 393 57v-58v, #26f+-27o: M-128, reel 3


  1. Box 1: 1-10
  2. Box 2: 11-18
  3. Box 3: 18-25, 59v
  4. Box 4: Originals from #48v-56v: CLOSED: USE MICROFILM
  5. Box 5: Originals from #56v-58v: CLOSED: USE MICROFILM
  6. Folio Box 6: Originals from #49v-52v: CLOSED: USE MICROFILM
  7. Folio Box 7: Originals from #43v-58v: CLOSED: USE MICROFILM

Processing Information

Processed: November 1989

By: Eve Golden
Link to catalog
Cooper, Lorraine Rowan, 1906-1985. Papers of Lorraine Rowan Cooper, 1936-1983: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future.

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