Bella Taylor McKnight Cooper papers, 1933-1969

Overview of the Collection

Cooper, Bella Taylor, 1900-1982
Bella Taylor McKnight Cooper papers
1933-1969 (inclusive)
0.69 cubic feet (2 boxes) plus 1 oversize vertical file
Collection Number
1174 (Accession No. 1174-001)
Papers of a civic leader, Seattle, Washington
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 2065431929
Fax: 2065431931
Access Restrictions

Open to all users.


Biographical NoteReturn to Top

Bella Taylor McKnight Cooper (1900-1982) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a major in Sociology. Her first job after graduation was with the Chicago Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Later Mrs. Cooper was executive director of the Cleveland, Ohio branch of the NAACP. During the second World War, she became the first African American U.S. Civil Service Commission representative and had charge in the Sixth Civil Service Region office of naval civilian appointments to Pearl Harbor, Mare Island, Hunter Point, Bremerton and Hampton Roads.

Cooper spent several years starting in 1944 travelling throughout the United States as Field Representative for the Harmon Foundation with the exhibit "Portraits of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin." The exhibit featured 32 portraits of notable African Americans painted by Laura Wheeler Waring and Betsy Graves Reyneau. Cooper booked the exhibits at various locations, gave lectures and gallery talks, and prepared other programming relating to the exhibit.

Her marriage in 1949 to Felix B. Cooper, dentist and civil leader, brought Bella to Seattle. In Seattle she served in numerous civic organizations. In 1960 she was named "Woman of the Year" by the Greater Seattle Council of Binai B'rith Women, the largest Jewish service organization in the world, and also appointed to Washington Governor's Council on Aging.

Cooper was a board member of Civic Unity Committee, first vice president and finance chairman of Christian Friends for Racial Equality, and a board member of Seattle-King County Mental Health Association. Bella Taylor Cooper died May 18, 1982 in Los Angeles, California.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

Correspondence, reports, speeches, writings, ephemera, clippings, and sign relating to Cooper's civic engagement.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Restrictions on Use

Creator's literary rights not transferred to the University of Washington Libraries.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Acquisition Information

Donated by Mrs. Bella Taylor Cooper, 6/16/1969.

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


Container(s) Description Dates
1/1 Biographical or Historical Features 1965-1968
1/2 General Correspondence 1944-1965
1/3 Speeches and Writings of Others 1961-1969
1/4 Photographs undated
1/5 Clippings 1942-1944
1/6-7 Spelman College publications
Catalog, The Campus Mirror, and Spelman Messenger
1/8 Publications: Opportunity Journal of Negro Life 1935
1/9 Publications: relating to race relations
Contains: The War's Greatest Scandal! The Story of Jim Crow in Uniform, by Nancy and Dwight MacDonald; Interracial Primer, by Bayard Rustin; The Races of Mankind, by Ruth Benedict and Gene Weltfish; Race Relations: A Problem of American Democracy; The Path of Negro Liberation, by Benjamin J. Davis; Education for Better Human Relations; Race Relations: A Monthly Summary of Events and Trends; The Christian Register Interracial Issue; and Nisei in the War against Japan.
1/10 Publications: Providing equal educational opportunity for all students of Seattle Public Schools 1966
1/11 Publications: Meals for Millions Foundation 1956
1/12 Publications: East Madison YMCA and Colman Service Men's Club annual report 1944
1/13 Publications: Report of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women 1963
1/14 Publications: The Housing Authority of the City of Seattle 6th annual report 1945
1/15 Publications: Mid-South Chicago Council 1st annual report 1955-1956
1/16 Publications: What shall this church do? Program report of Plymouth Congretational Church 1961
1/17 Fliers and pamphlets distributed/produced by National Conference of Christians and Jews 1943-1949
1/18 Miscellaneous printed matter 1949-1960, undated
2/1-2 State of Washington Governor Council for Aging
Letters, minutes, reports, ephemera
2/3 Seattle Civic Unity Committee 1957-1964
2/4 Young Women's Christian Association of the United States of America National Board 1947-1951
2/5 Young Women's Christian Association conference notebook 1948
2/6 Subject Series: Exhibit - "Portrait of Outstanding Americans of Negro Origin" 1947-1965
2/7 Subject Series: Cooper, Felix (Dr.) 1943-1954
OSVF Publications: Twentieth Century Americans of Negro Lineage by Louise E. Jefferson 1965
OSVF Church Time print by James W. Washington Jr.
Christmas card from Mr. and Mrs. James W. Washington Jr. to Dr. F.B. Cooper
OSVF Realia: metal sign painted mustard yellow with maroon text "COLORED" on one side and "WHITE" on verso undated

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • African American civic leaders--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
  • African Americans--History--Sources
  • Civil rights--United States--History--Sources
  • Personal Papers/Corporate Records (University of Washington)

Personal Names

  • Cooper, Bella Taylor, 1900-1982--Archives
  • Reyneau, Betsy Graves

Other Creators

  • Corporate Names
    • Washington (State). Governor's Council on Aging (creator)