George R. Cooley
Papers, 1941-1986

Quantity: 14 Boxes (6 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research.
Acquisition: Donated to the New York State Library by Barbara C.M. Dudley, September, 1988.
Processed by: Thomas E. Lavery, Student Intern, The College of Saint Rose, June 1990.


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Biographical Note

George R. Cooley was born May 29, 1896 in Troy, New York. He graduated from high school in 1914 and subsequently joined the armed forces to fight in the first World War. After his tour of duty, he returned to the Albany area and got a job with the banking house of Dillon, Read, and Company. Shortly thereafter, he opened his own investment house and became a successful investment counselor in the Capital District. After he retired he became interested in the field of botany and deeply involved in the modern conservation movement. In 1960, he joined the Board of Governors of The Nature Conservancy and was responsible for the establishment of several sanctuaries in Florida and New York State. He later received the 1971 American Motors Corporation Conservation Award and the 1985 Oak Leaf Award. He died at his home in Rensselaerville, N.Y., September 27, 1986.

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains material on George R. Cooley's personal interests in botany and conservation. It also contains various papers concerning his involvement with the Lower Hudson, Eastern New York, and Florida chapters of The Nature Conservancy, an organization committed to the preservation of ecologically significant areas. Also included are general files that deal with his contributions to various religious and wildlife protection organizations. It consists of an assortment of letters, articles, maps, cassette tapes, printed brochures, reports, and field books generated between 1941 and 1986 which comprise approximately six cubic feet of material.

The fact that Mr. Cooley was an important figure in the field of botany is well documented in this collection. For instance, he made major financial contributions to sustain many botanical research projects. He also sponsored the Cooley Award that some consider to be "the most prestigious annual prize available to plant systematists in North America." In 1955, he also published an article on the vegetation of Sanibel Island in Rhodora, a journal of the New England Botanical Club. Also included are letters to and from prominent botanists from the United States, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Jamaica, and Taiwan. Reports on Cooley's Jamaican expeditions of 1951 and 1952 are also available.

The fact that Cooley was a major force in the modern conservation movement is also well documented in this collection. For example, he made financial contributions to many organizations, such as the Florida Conservation Foundation and the Hudson River Conservation Society. A large portion of these papers reveal that he was an indispensable component of The Nature Conservancy. For instance, he was instrumental in the acquisition of several chapter preserves, such as Big Bear Swamp, Hannacroix Ravine, and Little Cumberland Island. The fact that he played a pivotal role in saving Tiger Creek is also documented. In addition, he was a trustee of The Mohawk Trust that was set up to "preserve the unspoiled natural beauty of the Shawangunk Mountains."

This collection unveils Cooley's interests in other areas as well. For example, he made substantial contributions to the National Council of Churches, the World Wildlife Foundation, "The 1001 : A Nature Trust," the American Baptist Historical Society, and the Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

The Cooley collection also contains material that might be of special interest to researchers in the field of environmental history. Included are financial reports of the Vroman's Nose Preservation Corporation, annual reports of the Nature Conservancy, financial and legal documents of the Mohawk Trust, and master plans for the Ten Mile Creek and Tiger Creek preserves. Also included is a copy of World Conservation Strategy: Living Resource Conservation for Sustaining Development that was prepared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources. This collection also contains a 1986 report by the Mohawk Preserve, Inc. on the endangered plants of the Shawangunk Mountains.

In short, the Cooley collection gives valuable insight into not only the field of botany, but it also provides the reader with the opportunity to peruse the papers of an extremely generous man who was dedicated to the preservation of our natural environment.

Box Contents
1 BOTANY FILES A Correspondence, 1954-1985
Africa - New Guinea, 1963-1965
Allen, John S., 1948-1982
American Society of Plant Taxonomists, 1957-1985
Auckland Institute and Museum, 1964-1972
B Correspondence, 1953-1978
Beard, John S., 1964-1971
Boyce Thompson Institute, 1958-1962
C Correspondence, 1955-1986
Carnegie Museum, 1959-1975
Cayman Islands, 1972-1974
Cornell University, 1953-1977
Cooley, George R., 1955-1985

D Correspondence, 1953-1985
Eaton, Richard J., 1956-1976
Ewan, Joseph, 1955-1973
Florida, University of, 1951-1957
Florida, University of, 1958-1978
Fund For Peace, 1976-1985
G Correspondence, 1941-1982
Georgia, University of, 1952-1970
Gleason, H. Allen, 1953-1981
Goulding, Jeanne H., 1965-1981
Godfrey, Robert K., 1955-1973
H - I Correspondence, 1952-1985

3 Harvard University, 1953-1960
Harvard University, 1961-1969
Harvard University, 1970-1983
Hong Kong True Light Foundation, 1955-1963
J Correspondence, 1958
Jamaica, Institute of, 1952-1965
Keck, David D., 1954-1958
Kirstenbosch, National Botany Gardens of South Africa, 1964-1981
Kral, Robert, 1958-1960
L Correspondence, 1964-1984
M Correspondence, 1947-1986
McVaugh, Rogers, 1954-1964
Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1950-1986
Missouri Botanical Garden, 1961-1984
New Hampshire, University of, 1960-1963
New York Botanical Garden, 1958-1963
North Carolina State College, 1955-1969

North Carolina, University of, 1952-1986
Ray, James D., 1954-1980
Reitz, J. Wayne, 1952-1970
Rollins, Reed C., 1952-1965
Russell, Norman H., 1950-1981
S Correspondence, 1952-1984
Saint Vincent, 1945-1974
Smithsonian Institution, 1953-1965
Southern Methodist, University of, 1953-1958
St. John, Harold, 1952-1976
Staflen, Frans, 1961-1967
T Correspondence, 1956-1975
Taiwan, 1966-1973
Thorne, Robert F., 1955-1958


U Correspondence, 1964-1976
U Miscellaneous, 1965-1986
University of South Florida, 1958-1985
Vanderbilt University, 1957
Vernon Parish, 1943-1955
W Correspondence, 1954-1981
Wang, Hsien-yien, 1966-1967
West Virginia University, 1958-1963
Wisconsin, University of, 1955-1970
Wood, Carroll, 1957-1984
Yale University, 1960-1977
X - Z Correspondence, 1952-1984
6 Field Books (Botany), Vol. 1 - 7

Field Books (Botany), Vol. 8 - 12



B Conservation, 1966-1983
Costa Rica, 1975-1979
Craighead, Frank C., 1962-1986
E Conservation, 1970-1971
G Conservation, 1983
Goodwin, Richard H., 1957-1986
H Conservation, 1956-1974
J - M Conservation, 1968-1986


Little Cumberland Island, 1968-1978
Mohonk, Lake (Mountain House), 1954-1982
Mohonk Preserve, Inc., 1973l-1986
Mohawk Trust, 1964-1984
N - S Conservation, 1962-1985
Sanibel-Captive Conservation Foundation, 1961-1985


Sierra Club Correspondence, 1965-1969
World Conservation Strategy
World Wildlife Fund, 1973-1986


Halle, Roger, 1964-1982
Halle, Roger, 1968-1980
Scarsdale-Bonticou Preserve, 1971-1975
The Native Conservancy, Lower Hudson
Chapter, 1942-1985


Barberville Falls, 1968-1972
Bear Swamp, 1965-1967
Bergen Swamp Preservation Society, 1956-1967
Christman Sanctuary, 1970
Dome Island, 1961
Emmons Pond
George, Carl, 1969-1981
Hannacroix Ravine, 1970-1977
International Paper, 1966-1976
Kenrose, 1967-1975
Lisha Kill, 1972
Loines Preserve, 1965
Otsego County, 1969
Pine Bush, 1981
Skidmore College, 1969-1985
State Bank of Albany, 1969-1970
State University of New York, 1969-1977
Stewart Preserve, 1966
Thompson Pond, 1972-1973
TNC - ENY General, 1957-1986
Vroman's Nose, 1948-19084
West Branch Native Preserve, 1973
Whitbeck Preserve, 1971
Wolf Hill, 1964-1971


Bok, Cary, 1968-1986
Brown, Willie, 1967-1974
Florida, General, 1967-1986
Tiger Creek, 1966-1985
TNC - Florida Chapter, 1975-1985


Dartmouth College, 1961-1962
Eastman, Whitney, 1962-1977
Foster, Charles, 1966-1967
Georgia, 1970
Goodwin, Richard, 1965-1966
Hawaii, 1965-1967
Pough, Richard H., 1953-1984
TNC - National Office, 1953-1986
TNC - Suwannee River

General Files

American Baptist Historical Society, 1962-1983
American Foundation, Inc., 1977-1984
Colgate-Rochester Divinity School 1951-1968
Colgate-Rochester Divinity School, 1969-1977
Harper, Francis, 1950-1976
J Correspondence, 1956-1985
Miscellaneous, 1956-1986
National Council of Churches, 1961-1972
Ocean Trust Foundation, 1979
Scott, Michael L., 1964-1965
W Correspondence, 1952-1986
World Policy Institute, 1985-1986
Last Updated: May 24, 2021