Cooper, John Montgomery
COOPER, JOHN MONTGOMERY
Anthropologist, educator; b. Rockville, MD, Oct. 28, 1881; d. Washington, DC, May 22, 1949. His parents were James Cooper, descendant of English Quakers who settled in Darby, PA, in 1684, and Lillie Tolou, of a Baltimore family of French origin. Cooper was sent from St. Charles College, Catonsville, MD, to the North American College in Rome, where he obtained doctorates in philosophy and theology. Following ordination in 1905, he was assigned to St. Matthew's Cathedral, Washington, DC, and appointed, in 1909, as a part-time instructor at The Catholic University of America. His interest in European archaeology broadened to include cultural anthropology, which later became his dominant intellectual interest. His first technical publication in the field appeared in 1917. After serving the National Catholic War Council during World War I, he became, in 1920, a full-time member of the faculty of Catholic University. There he organized the department of religion and pioneered in the effort to make religion courses correspond to the needs of the laity. Simultaneously, he taught anthropology in the Department of Sociology and advanced in rank as associate professor of sociology (1923) and professor of anthropology (1928). In 1934, he was appointed head of the newly inaugurated Department of Anthropology, the first such department under Catholic auspices in the United States. His reputation as scientist and teacher brought him invitations to serve as visiting professor at the University of California (1938) and the University of New Mexico (1948–49). He served on committees of several national research councils and held office in a number of anthropological societies, notably the American Anthropological Association, of which he was secretary from 1931 to 1937 and president during 1940. He was elevated to the ecclesiastical rank of domestic prelate in 1941.
Although Cooper contributed to social work, religious education, theology, and ethics, he was best known in the United States and abroad for his ethnological monographs and articles based on systematic field research among North American Indians and for his classification of the evidence of the indigenous cultures of South America. He was a principal collaborator with Robert Lowie and others on the Handbook of South American Indians (Washington 1949). A bibliography of his works was published in Primitive Man 23 (1950) 66–84. Cooper was a founder of the Catholic Anthropological Conference and founder and editor of its periodical, known from 1928 to 1953 as Primitive Man and subsequently as the Anthropological Quarterly, and of the Publications of the Conference, a series of monographs. He likewise inaugurated and edited the Anthropological Series of The Catholic University of America.
Bibliography: r. flannery, "John Montgomery Cooper," American Anthropologist 52 (1950) 64–74. p. h. furfey, "John Montgomery Cooper," Primitive Man 23 (1950) 49–84. a. mÉtraux, "The Contribution of Rev. Fr. Cooper to South American Ethnography," ibid. 39–48.