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Robert H. Cowley Papers



Scope and Contents

Biographical Note

Administrative Information

Detailed Description

Personal Correspondence

Annual Reports

Biographical Sketches


Anna Cowley and Little Anna Cowley


Contact us about this collection

Robert H. Cowley Papers, 1894-1948 | Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

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Collection Overview

Title: Robert H. Cowley Papers, 1894-1948Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1904-1948

ID: RG 09/9.12

Primary Creator: Cowley, Robert H.

Extent: 2.0 Boxes (General)


Arrangement by series:

Series 1: Personal Correspondence; Series 2: Annual Reports, Series 3: Biographical Sketches; Series 4: Photographs; Series 5: Anna Cowley and Little Anna Cowley; Series 6: Artifacts

Date Acquired: 05/01/1996

Subjects: Appalachian Region -- Social life and customs., Berea College, Berea College -- Faculty, Berea College -- Health Services, Berea College -- Hospital, Berea College -- Student Health Services, Medical care -- Kentucky.

Languages: English


Robert H. Cowley was born in Lorain, Ohio, on October 25, 1871.  After graduating from Lorain High School, Cowley attended Oberlin College, and studied at Western Reserve Medical School in the late 1890s.     

In 1904, after three years of practicing medicine, Cowley accepted an invitation from Berea College President, William Goddell Frost, to form a college health service.  During his thirty-five year tenure, Cowley served the Berea students, faculty and peoples of the areas surrounding Berea.  Throughout Cowley’s years of service at Berea, he periodically traveled abroad to study medicine.  Cowley became known by many as an expert in the field of medicine.  He received top honors from Berea College, Oberlin, and many national medical organizations.

Robert H. Cowley was a master of his trade and a man dedicated to public service.  It is for these reasons that he became one of the most highly respected men of his day.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection is comprised of the records and papers of Dr. Robert H. Cowley including correspondence, reports, photographs, artifacts, and other materials.

Important subject covered in the collection are:  the practice of medicine in America between 1904 and 1935; the history of the Berea College Health Service; and the history of Berea College Hospital.  Correspondents include:  Anna Perry Cowley, President William Goddell Frost, President William J. Hutchins, various patients which were treated by Dr. Cowley, and various Berea College faculty members.

Biographical Note

Dr. Robert H. Cowley

Subject/Index Terms

Appalachian Region -- Social life and customs.
Berea College
Berea College -- Faculty
Berea College -- Health Services
Berea College -- Hospital
Berea College -- Student Health Services
Medical care -- Kentucky.

Administrative Information

Repository: Berea College Special Collections and Archives Catalog

Access Restrictions: Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Use Restrictions: Federal copyright regulations apply.  Cite all information.  Some items may be restricted if they contain personal information.

Acquisition Source: The papers of the Dr. Robert H. Cowley were placed in the Berea College Archives in May of 1996 by Ms. Margaret Wright.

Preferred Citation: [Item], RG 09/9.12: Dr. Robert H. Cowley Papers, Special Collections & Archives, Berea College, Berea, KY.

Processing Information: Opened for research in October of 1998. Finding aid updated 2016.

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Sub-Series:

[Sub-Series 1: Personal Correspondence],
[Sub-Series 2: Annual Reports],
[Sub-Series 3: Biographical Sketches],
[Sub-Series 4: Photographs],
[Sub-Series 5: Anna Cowley and Little Anna Cowley],
[Sub-Series 6: Artifacts],

Sub-Series 1: Personal CorrespondenceAdd to your cart.
The bulk of correspondence consists of personal letters written by Dr. Robert Cowley to his beloved wife, Mrs. Anna Perry Cowley. The letters show Cowley's love for his wife, but they also give us information about the time period in which Dr. Cowley lived including information on his work in the medical field, such as technicalities regarding recent surgeries he had performed. Also to be found in Cowley’s personal correspondence are letters to and from the college administration regarding the College Health Service and serving the “mountain youth.”
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Correspondence to Anna Cowley, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 2: Correspondence to Anna Cowley, n.d.Add to your cart.
Folder 3: Correspondence to Anna Cowley, 1894; 1899; 1900-1902Add to your cart.
Folder 4: Correspondence to Anna Cowley, 1905; 1906; 1908; 1909Add to your cart.
Folder 5: Correspondence to Anna Cowley, 1910; 1925-1927; 1933; 1939Add to your cart.
Folder 6: Correspondence to and from Cowley while in Austria, 1910Add to your cart.
Folder 7: Correspondence from othersAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Correspondence to othersAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 2: Annual ReportsAdd to your cart.
In his annual reports, Dr. Cowley briefed the college’s administration on the work, progress, and development of the College health services.  Unfortunately, these reports are not complete and only cover the years from 1910 through 1913.  Included in this folder is a chronological journal of Dr. Cowley’s remarks on the College Health Service spanning from 1904 until 1955.  The compilation of these sources is the work of Elizabeth S. Peck, college historian.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 9: Berea College Hospital:  Annual Reports and Journal, 1904-1955Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 3: Biographical SketchesAdd to your cart.
This series contains a number of biographical sketches of Cowley—the most comprehensive being an article from the Berea Alumnus.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 10: Biographical:  Biographical Sketches, DedicationsAdd to your cart.
Folder 11: Biographical:  Retirement-DeathAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 4: PhotographsAdd to your cart.
Photographs in this series document the life of Cowley from the early 1890s until the late 1940s.  Though sporadic, the photographs cover most areas of Cowley’s life.  They begin in his youth, with a picture of Cowley and his father on his father’s boat.  There are several photographs of Cowley at Oberlin—mainly group photos of the athletic teams.  There are also photographs of camping trips, images of Berea, and of Cowley and his wife.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 12: Photographs, c. 1890s-c. 1900Add to your cart.
Folder 13: Photographs, c. 1900-c. 1948Add to your cart.
Sub-Series 5: Anna Cowley and Little Anna CowleyAdd to your cart.
This series contains information on Anna Cowley and the Cowley’s only daughter who lived to the age of three.
Box 1Add to your cart.
Folder 14: Cowley, AnnaAdd to your cart.
Folder 15: Cowley, Baby AnnaAdd to your cart.
Sub-Series 6: ArtifactsAdd to your cart.
This series contains artifacts of Cowley’s including his Oberlin degree; honorary hood; a Bible, which Dr. Cowley gave to Anna; a travel journal, which both Dr. and Mrs. Cowley wrote in; one of Mrs. Cowley’s dresses; and a thermometer.
Box 2Add to your cart.
Folder 1: Peck NotesAdd to your cart.
Item 1: Travel JournalAdd to your cart.
Item 2: The Holy Bible, a gift to Mrs. CowleyAdd to your cart.
Item 3: Guest bookAdd to your cart.
Item 4: Honorary DegreesAdd to your cart.
Item 5: ThermometerAdd to your cart.

Browse by Sub-Series:

[Sub-Series 1: Personal Correspondence],
[Sub-Series 2: Annual Reports],
[Sub-Series 3: Biographical Sketches],
[Sub-Series 4: Photographs],
[Sub-Series 5: Anna Cowley and Little Anna Cowley],
[Sub-Series 6: Artifacts],

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