Return to USC Homepage
Return to University Libraries
Office of Development

Bicentennial Campaign
Current Endowments
Naming Opportunities
Contact Us

Thomas Cooper Society

Thomas Cooper
Born in Westminster, England, and educated at Oxford University (where he failed to earn a degree), Thomas Cooper (1759–1839) was lawyer, scientist, and philosopher who identified himself with various radical causes. Emigrating to American in 1794 in hopes of finding political freedom, he settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania, where he practiced law and medicine. By 1799 he had become well known through his pamphleteering as an opponent to the Sedition Act, and under this legislation he was convicted in 1800 and served six months in prison.

Thomas Cooper
Upon his release, Cooper served as a county commissioner and a state judge in Pennsylvania but soon thereafter left politics and the judiciary to take up teaching. From 1811 to 1815 he was chair of chemistry at Carlisle (now Dickinson) College, and from 1816 to 1819 he was a professor of applied chemistry and mineralogy at the University of Pennsylvania. Through the patronage of Thomas Jefferson, Cooper was elected to the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1819 but never assumed the position.

In 1820, Cooper became professor of chemistry at South Carolina College and was elected the institution's second president in the following year. As a member of the faculty, he taught not only in the sciences but also in the social sciences; his Lectures on the Elements of Political Economy (1826) was one of the pioneer university textbooks in the United States. Retiring from the presidency in 1834, he remained an active figure in state and federal political circles until his death on May 11, 1839. He was buried in Trinity Churchyard, Columbia.

The Thomas Cooper Society
The Thomas Cooper Society serves as a volunteer support organization for the University's Thomas Cooper Library, encouraging community interest in the Library and promoting a fuller understanding of its purpose, programs, and potential. Opportunities for cultural enrichment are offered through a stimulating series of lectures, exhibitions, and special events. Through its generosity, the Society fosters gifts, endowments, and memorials to the Thomas Cooper Library, enabling the library to acquire distinctive and valuable materials for students and scholars.

Activities of the Society include special dinner meetings, address by prominent individuals, exhibit of rare and important materials held in the Thomas Cooper Library, seminars and workshops on book-collecting and various aspects of the book arts, fund-raising, and a periodically distributed newsletter. To encourage and reward the beginning collector, the Society sponsors an annual book-collecting competition open to all students enrolled in colleges and universities in the state of South Carolina.

Member of the Society receive:

  • borrowing privileges and interlibrary loan service at the Thomas Cooper Library,
  • discounts on books published by the University of South Carolina Press, and
  • occasional publications of the Thomas Cooper Library.
Various categories of membership are available, dues for which are listed below. Funds not needed for the modest expenses of the Society are committed to the Thomas Cooper Library for the purchase of books, periodicals, and other scholarly resources. Membership is valid for 12 months from the time of enrollment.

To inform Reda Rietveld, the Society Secretary, of your interest in the Thomas Cooper Society, please fill out the form below.

Zip Code:
Phone Number:
Fax Number:
E-mail Address:

Membership Levels
Individual, $25 Sustaining, $100 Corporate, $500 High School Student, $20
Family, $35 Patron, $250 Life, $750 USC Student, $10

USC   |  University Libraries  |  USCAN — Online Catalog

Send comments to Carroll Peters.
This page copyright 1995-99, The Board of Trustees of the University of South Carolina.
This page was last updated on 4 February 1999.