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Guide to the Nellie Wooster Cooley Papers, 1882 - 1952

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Collection Summary

Repository: Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries
Creator: Cooley, Nellie Wooster
Title: Nellie Wooster Cooley Papers
Dates: 1882-1952
Quantity: 0.2 cubic ft. (1 box)
Abstract: Materials related to Wooster's life at Vassar College and as a civic volunteer in Chicago.
Forms of Materials: Correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, newspaper clippings, photographs.

Biographical Note

Nellie Wooster Cooley (1864-1952) was president of the Vassar class of 1886. A leader in Vassar alumni/ae activities, she was also an active civic volunteer in Chicago. Born in Torrington, Connecticut to Letsome Terrill Wooster and Julia Adelia Wooster, she married Harlan Ward Cooley, a graduate of Yale (1888) and Yale Law School in 1892 and moved to Chicago. The Cooleys were the parents of Julia Cooley Altrocchi (b. 1893) (VC 1914) and Harlan Wooster Cooley (b. 1899) (Yale 1921).

In addition to serving as president of her Vassar class, she was President of the Vassar Student's Aid Society (1903-1905), president of the Vassar Alumnae Association of Chicago (1906-1908), and president of the Associate Alumnae of Vassar College (1912-1913). She was president of the Chicago College Club (1913-1915) and of the Chicago Woman's Club (1914-1917), and president of the Illinois Woman's Legislative Congress in 1917. During World War I, she served as State Chairman of Registration Committee for the Woman's Committee, Council of National Defense, Illinois Division. In addition, she served as a member of the Illinois Immigrants' Commission under Gov. Lowden and on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Immigrants' Protective League, an organization founded by Jane Addams and Julia Lathrop. She was also president of the Drama League of Chicago (1920) and a member of the Metropolitan Board of the Y.W.C.A. Her poems were published in Connecticut Quarterly and Chicago International. An essay was published in The Catholic World.

Nellie Wooster Cooley died in Chicago on February 4, 1952.

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Scope and Content Note

Correspondence, manuscripts, printed material, newspaper clippings, photographs related to her student life at VC, alumnae association activities and civic volunteer work in Chicago. There are notes for the V.C. Division of Euthenics, and photographs and materials documenting the senior parlor and a student gathering as well as the 1886 commencement. Correspondence and reports record alumnae activities ca. 1906-1913 as well as the class of 1886's 5th, 25th and 50th reunions. A manuscript of her essay "Paris as an Art Center" for presentation at the Arche Club is the first material related to her volunteer activities in Chicago. Newspaper clippings, manuscript drafts, and printed materials document her subsequent civic activities, most of which took place ca. 1913-1933. These included her printed report on the Registration Division of the Woman's Committee of Woman's Committee, Council of National Defense, Illinois Division during World War I and an unpublished manuscript intended to be the preface to lectures on the contribution of women to society that were given in conjunction the Century of Progress Chicago International Exposition (1933-1934).

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Access and Use


This collection is open for research according to the regulations of the Vassar College Archives and Special Collections Library without any additional restrictions.

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Related Material

  • Two of Cooley's photograph albums are housed with the

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Subject Headings


  • Chicago Woman's Club (Chicago, Ill.)
  • Vassar College -- Alumni and alumnae


  • World War, 1914-1918 -- women

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Encoding Information

Encoded by Jessica Kemm, September 2009.

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Nellie Wooster Cooley Papers, Archives and Special Collections Library, Vassar College Libraries.

Processing Information

Original processing date unknown.

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Container List

Folder 1 Photographs, 1882-1901
Folder 2 Graduation, 1886
Folder 3 Pages from a V.C. Notebook
Folder 4 Foreward: Chicago's Century of Progress
Folder 5 The Division of Euthenics at V.C.
Folder 6 "Paris as an Art Center," 1893
Folder 7 "On Growing Deaf," 1945
Folder 8 Notes and letters regarding V.C.
Folder 9 Letters regarding V.C. service
Folder 10 Newspaper clippings
Folder 11 Civic and organizational achievements
Folder 12 V.C. Alumnae Magazine , eulogy, 1952
Folder 13 Miscellaneous

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