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Joseph W. Cooper papers

Joseph W. Cooper papers

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Finding aid for the Joseph W. Cooper papers


Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
100 Rock Street
Little Rock, Arkansas, 72201
(501) 320-5700

June 20, 2013

Repository: Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Creator:Cooper family (Malvern, Ark.)
Title: Joseph W. Cooper papers
Dates: Bulk, 1917-1919
Dates: 1880-1967
Quantity: 5.96 Linear feet
Abstract:This collection contains correspondence and other documents related to the Joseph W. Cooper family, particularly Cooper's World War I service.
Identification: BC.MSS.99.31
Language: English
Permanent URL:


This collection is arranged topically and chronologically starting with documents related to World War I.

Scope and Contents

This collection contains correspondence and other documents related to the Joseph W. Cooper family. Many of the documents are related to Cooper's World War I service.

Biographical Information

Joseph Whitaker Cooper was born in Malvern, Arkansas, in 1889, to Joe W. Sr. and Clara Strong Cooper. Details from his early life are scarce. Cooper had four siblings - William H., Annie Maurice, Felix Downey, and Clara Jr. He attended Hendrix College and the University of Arkansas. On his draft registration card, Cooper describes himself as a self-employed merchant; at that time he was proprietor of a men's store in Malvern.

Cooper enlisted in the Army on October 27, 1917, and entered training at Leon Springs, Texas. Eventually, he joined the 19th Balloon Company (organized January 24, 1918) as a supply officer and completed training at the Fort Omaha balloon school in Nebraska. One hundred and ten balloon companies were created during WWI, but only thirty-five - including Cooper's 19th - made it to France. Seventeen of these companies eventually served at the front doing reconnaissance, communication, aerial photography, and parachuting. Cooper arrived in France in November 1918, eight days before the signing of the armistice. He spent most of his time stationed in and around Bordeaux before returning to the U.S. and being honorably discharged on May 29, 1919.

Joe W. Cooper joined the Home Life Insurance Company of Arkansas in 1926, opening a Memphis general agency for the company in 1929. He later joined the Union Central Life Insurance Company, where he worked until retirement in both Nebraska and Arkansas. Cooper married Ruth Moore in 1930, and the couple had two children - Joe Jr. and William "Bill." Sone correspondence in the collection follows the life of Joe Jr., particularly his time in college. Joe Jr. attended the University of Arkansas and the University of Tennessee before becoming a dentist. Other materials in the collection are related to Clara Cooper, Ruth Moore Cooper, and Bill Cooper, as well as occasional extended family members.

Joe W. Cooper died on October 29, 1961, at the age of seventy-two and is buried in Malvern, Arkansas. In addition to his time in the insurance business, he had served as president of the Arkansas Underwriters Association, a member of the Pulaski Heights Methodist Church board, a charter member of Riverdale County Club, and a member of the American Legion. Cooper was a 32nd degree Mason and a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity for forty years.

Index Terms

This record series is indexed under the following controlled access subject terms.

Arkansas -- History -- 20th century
Cooper family (Malvern, Ark.)
Cooper, Joseph W., 1889-1961
Malvern (Ark.)
Soldiers -- Arkansas -- Correspondence
United States. Army. Balloon Company, 19th.
World War, 1914-1918
World War, 1914-1918 -- Arkansas
World War, 1914-1918 -- Campaigns -- France


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Restrictions on Use

Non-circulating, in-house use only.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Joseph W. Cooper papers, MSS.99.31, Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, Arkansas Studies Institute

Acquisition Information

Donated by Thomas Ryan, December 1998

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