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Patricia A. Cooper papers

 Collection 0119-LBR

Patricia A. Cooper is a labor historian and writer. This collection consists of oral history interviews, oral history transcripts, book manuscript drafts, and research notes for one published book about the Cigar Makers International Union, "Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919," and one unpublished book about the history of Sun Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Chester, Pennsylvania.


  • 1895-2008
  • Majority of material found within 1976-2003

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Special Collections reading room. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

This collection contains restricted material. Please check the series and folder listings for additional information. Materials of a sensitive nature, such as those containing personally identifiable information, are restricted for 75 years or the life of the individual and will be removed by special collections staff. Please speak with a staff member if you believe that materials have been unnecessarily removed.

This collection also contains audiovisual materials. Items that cannot be used in the Special Collections reading room or are too fragile for researchers require that a digital copy be made prior to use because the original audio tapes are not reformatted for public access. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit.

This collection contains born-digital materials. If you would like to access these materials, please contact us prior to your visit as items may require specialized software for access.

Please contact us before visiting the Special Collections reading room to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


4.5 Linear Feet (3 Paige boxes)

178 Sound Cassettes

4 Items (4 artifact items)

1.08 Megabytes

1 electronic_discs

Scope and Contents

Historian Patricia A. Cooper researched and published a book about the Cigar Makers International Union, Once a Cigar Maker: Men, Women, and Work Culture in American Cigar Factories, 1900-1919 (1987), and researched and drafted a book about shipbuilders who worked at Sun Shipbuilding Dry Dock Company between 1916 and 1942. The collection consists of materials assembled by Cooper for her research.

Series 1 consists of oral history interviews with 73 cigar makers who worked in factories (154 audio cassette tapes), oral history interview transcripts with 46 people, a book manscript draft, correspondence with Glenda Morrison and Joseph Santana, publications, photographs, and cigar making artifacts.

Series 2 consists of oral history interviews with 21 shipbuilders (24 audio cassette tapes), oral history interview transcripts with 17 people, an unpublished book manuscript draft, correspondence with multiple research facilities, shipbuilders, and shipbuilders' family members, photographs, and publications.

Biographical / Historical

Patricia A. Cooper received her Ph.D. in history from the University of Maryland in 1981. She taught in the History and Politics Department at Drexel University and in the Department of History and the Gender and Women's Studies Program at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include gender, race, and labor.


This collection is organized into two series:

Series 1
Cigar Makers
Series 2
Sun Shipbuilding

Within the two series, material was arranged into informal groups: oral history tapes, oral history transcripts, book manuscript drafts, and research files. The audio tapes and transcripts were arranged alphabetically and then chronologically.

Custodial History

This collection was donated to University of Maryland Libraries by Patricia Cooper on June 25, 1993 and September 20, 2018.

Processing Information

In the Spring of 2020, a second accession received from Patricia Cooper was incorporated into an existing minimal resource record. Revisions to the resource record included editing the abstract, dates, and extents. The processing note, biographical/historical note, scope and contents, collection arrangement, and archival objects were added to the resource record. The collection was arranged into two series according to Cooper's book research and drafts. Research materials that were readily available elsewhere, such as photocopies of archival documents, were reviewed and recommended for discarding from the collection.

In Fall 2021/Winter 2022, the collection materials were physically arranged according to intellectual arrangement planned during 2020. The files and audio tapes were not fully organized, they were mainly grouped together with their original accession. The research materials were reviewed and photocopies were discarded. Most of these sources were captured in the Related Materials Note.

When publications were reviewed in 2021, several titles were discarded while some were referred for cataloging. A small selection of publications were retained in the archival collection.

Details about audio recordings are noted in the individual records, such as the number of tapes per interview, and if the tapes are marked as copies. If the interview was not conducted by Patricia Cooper, and the interviewer's name is available, that is also noted. There is not necessarily a direct correlation with the names in the list of audio recordings and the names in the list of transcripts. Some interviews were conducted by phone, and some were with two or more people together. The length of interviews varies from a segment on one side of a tape, to multiple tapes. Some interviews were not transcribed, and interview notes were retained when available.

Loose materials were placed in acid free folders, and all materials were rehoused into acid free boxes. Interviewee's names were written on the spine of the tape for improved access, however tape numbers were not assigned.

Accessioning work for this collection began in Fall 2019 but processing could not be completed remotely during 2020; certain tasks were not completed until 2022 when staff was reestablished onsite. After collection work was completed, the collection's description was updated accordingly.

Guide to the Patricia A. Cooper papers
Allison Riehl and Jennifer Eidson
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2010-05-12: EAD markup checked and verified using Oxygen software by Jennie Levine Knies.
  • 2017-11-15: EAD checked and revised following ArchivesSpace migration by Emily Flint.
  • 2017-12-13: Finding aid reviewed and minor edits made by Liz Caringola.
  • 2019-02-04: Scope and content added, as well as notes regarding limited access to oral history interviews and transcripts by Jen Eidson.
  • 2020-05-08: Update to dates, extent, scope and content by Allison Riehl. See Processing note for further details.
  • 2022-03-07: Collection materials were physically rearranged, publications reviewed, and description updated accordingly by Jennifer Eidson. See Processing Note for further details.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742