Scope and Content
Organization and Arrangement
Title: Theodore Fred Kuper Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1920-1980
Collection number: 1524
Kuper, Theodore Fred, 1886-1981
Extent: 37 boxes (18.5 linear ft.)
2 oversize boxes
University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
Abstract: Theodore Fred Kuper (1886-1981) was a lawyer, the national director of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation (1923-35),
executive director of the George Washington Foundation for Citizenship and Education(1928-30), executive manager (1932-36)
and law secretary (1936-43) of the New York City Board of Education, and later served as legal, legislative, and public relations
counsel for City Colleges of New York and for the Fashion Institute of Technology. The collection consists of correspondence,
newspaper and journal articles, personal manuscripts, books, pamphlets, brochures, prints, lithographs, and approximately
Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department
of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
Restrictions on Use and Reproduction
Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including
copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds
the copyright and pursue the
copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Restrictions on Access
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Advance notice required for access.
Additional Physical Form Available
A copy of the original version of this online finding aid is available at the UCLA Department of Special Collections for in-house
consultation and may be obtained for a fee. Please contact:
- Public Services Division
- UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections
- Room A1713, Charles E. Young Research Library
- Box 951575
- Los Angeles, CA 90095-1575
- Telephone: 310/825-4988 (10:00 a.m. - 4:45 p.m., Pacific
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Provenance/Source of Acquisition
Gift of Mrs. Terry Kirker, 1987.
[Identification of item], Theodore Fred Kuper Papers (Collection 1524). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young
Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.
UCLA Catalog Record ID
Kuper was born on May 1, 1886 in Moscow; moved with his parents to New York City in 1891; LL.B, New York University Law School,
1904; member of the E.R. Terry law firm, 1908-14; worked in oil business in the Midwest, 1917-22; returned to New York City,
serving as national director of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1923-35; wrote
Thomas Jefferson the Giant, later printed as
Thomas Jefferson Still Lives, 1926; executive director, George Washington Foundation for Citizenship and Education, 1928-30; executive manager of New
York City Board of Education, 1932-36; served as law secretary of New York City Board of Education, 1936-43; served as legal,
legislative, and public relations counsel for City Colleges of New York, and for the Fashion Institute of Technology, 1948-59;
moved to California, 1959; died on May 30, 1981 in Whittier, California.
Extended Biographical Narrative
Theodore Fred Kuper (b. 1886) was a Russian-Jewish immigrant to the United States who became a leader in the preservationist
movement that saved Thomas Jefferson's home Monticello and an important player in the administration of New York City's public
schools and city college system. In 1891, Kuper and his family left Moscow for New York City, where they settled, and where
Kuper would live, except for a five year period,
until his move to California in 1959. Successful completion of the Board of Regents Examination qualified Kuper for higher
education; consequently, he entered, in 1902, the New York University School of Law, from which he received his LLB in 1904.
served as a law clerk in the firm of E.R. Terry, a member of a distinguished New York family. After passing the New York State
Bar Exam, Kuper became a member of the firm in 1908.
After making and then losing a substantial amount of money in the oil business in the Midwest from 1917-1922, Kuper returned
to New York City. In 1923, Kuper began the definitive work of his life, assuming an important role in the newly organized
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, the purpose of which was to buy, and then preserve as part
of the national heritage, the third president's home of Monticello. Kuper served as the New York-based organization's National
Director and was responsible for fundraising. In this role, Kuper made speeches throughout the nation, exhorting citizens
financially the foundation in its work that the national treasure that is Monticello not be lost. Kuper also designed fundraising
brochures for the organization; an especially noteworthy success in his fundraising efforts was the $100,000 raised from American
schoolchildren to cover the mortgage for Monticello when donations from businesses and wealthy individuals proved insufficent.
As part of the effort to promote the foundation's work, Kuper wrote
Thomas Jefferson the Giant, a popular account of the third president's life and accomplishments. Later printings of this booklet, the last appearing
during the United States Bicentennial, were entitled
Thomas Jefferson Still Lives. With Kuper's critical contributions, the Foundation successfully purchased and restored Monticello. As part of his work
with the Foundation, Kuper was involved in the United States Sequicentennial celebration and the centennial of Jefferson's
death in 1926. In short, Kuper stands as significant figure in
a movement that blazed the way for historic preservation in the United States and that restored to public notice the importance
of Thomas Jefferson. Kuper's official relationship with the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation ended in 1935, but his interest
in Jefferson did not flag. He maintained unofficial ties with the organization throughout his life and continued to publish
on Jefferson and the Constitution.
By 1932 Kuper had also begun his work with the New York City Board of Education which would lead to his position as Law Secretary
for the Board. In this capacity, Kuper was responsible for the legal aspects of educational policy, the legal and administrative
questions that required a lawyer's expertise. His notable accomplishments included
successfully representing the New York City Board of Education in several law suits, reduction of interest rates paid by the
Board in its contracts, revision of standard Board contracts, and the revision of school by-laws. In 1943, Kuper was at odds
with Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia over the mayor's decision to change school purchasing procedures. As a result, despite much
protest from school officials and such groups as the NEA, LaGuardia wrote Kuper's position out of the budget, thus ending
his official association with the New York City Board of Education.
Kuper's involvement in public education continued with his role as legal counsel for the City Colleges of New York. Here,
Kuper was instrumental in the fight for salary increases for college faculty and helped found the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Kuper moved to California in 1959, eventually settling in Whittier. Despite advancing age, Kuper's expertise in fundraising
and public relations work for organizations was not unwasted: he served, for example, as a consultant for the Hollywood Museum
in the early 1960s. His interest in Jefferson and United States history remained strong and seemed to increase as the nation
prepared for the Bicentennial. Kuper wrote numerous articles on the Declaration of Independence and Jefferson, and was the
subject of newspaper and magazine articles himself because of his work in preserving Monticello. Only his death in 1981 ended
the productivity of this remarkable man.
All information in this biography and chronology comes from the material in the the
Theodore Fred Kuper Papers.
||Born May 1, in Moscow, Russia
||Emigrates with family to New York City
||Graduates from New York University Law School with LLB
||Clerks in law firm of E.R. Terry
||Passes New York State Bar Exam
||Member of law firm of E.R. Terry
||In oil business in the Midwest (Oklahoma?)
||National Director of Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation
||Consultant to president of New York City Board of Education
||First printing of
Thomas Jefferson the Giant; later printings entitled
Thomas Jefferson Still Lives
||Executive director of George Washington Foundation for Citizenship and Education
||Executive manager of New York City Board of Education
||Law Secretary of New York City Board of Education until dismissal by Mayor LaGuardia
||Graduates from high school
||Legal, legislative, and public relations counsel for City Colleges of New York
||Legal, legislative, public relations and fund raising counsel for Fashion Institute of Technology
||With wife Rose, moves to California
||Consultant for Hollywood Museum
||Heads We, the People-Today project at the University of Southern California, and writes numerous newspaper articles on Jefferson,
the Constitution, and American history
||Dies 30 May, in Whittier, California
Scope and Content
Collection consists of correspondence, newspaper and journal articles, personal manuscripts, books, pamphlets, brochures,
prints, lithographs, and approximately 150 photographs.
Expanded Scope and Content
The Theodore Fred Kuper Papers are comprised of 37 boxes and two oversize boxes. With a few exceptions, the majority of the
material in the collection falls within the period 1920-1980. The collection includes correspondence, newspaper and journal
articles, personal manuscripts, books, pamphlets, brochures, prints, lithographs, and approximately
150 photographs. Reflecting both the original order and the material preserved in the collection, the Theodore Fred Kuper
Papers have been arranged in the series described in the following paragraphs. The sub-series publications was created for
each series because of the collection's large number of publications and to facilitate easier
Thomas Jefferson Foundation: Papers, publications, and correspondence related to the Foundation and Kuper's work for it.
Jefferson: Material covering Kuper's interests, research, and publications on Jefferson and early United States history.
Correspondence: Letters from professional and personal acquaintances; includes material that Kuper collected on persons, eg,
book reviews, or that was given to him by friends and acquaintances. Some crossover from other series, eg, material on the
Thomas Jefferson Foundation.
New York City Board of Education: Articles, personal and professional papers, and correspondence related to Kuper's work with
Education: Material covering Kuper's numerous other activities in the field of education.
City Colleges of New York: Business and personal papers, correspondence, articles on Kuper's work with CCNY. Includes the
sub-series Fashion Institute of Technology, the school that Kuper helped found and that was associated with the CCNY system.
Personal: Material covering all other professional and personal interests, activites, and writings of Theodore Fred Kuper.
This includes, for example, his involvement in Zionist activites or association with the Hollwood Museum.
The majority of material is found in the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and Jefferson series. Correspondents of note include
Claude Bowers, historian and U.S. ambassador to Spain during the Spanish Civil War; the Jefferson scholar Dumas Malone; the
movie producer Sol Lesser; and Marian Deckerman, Eleanor Roosevelt's confidant. The collection should be of value to researchers
interested in Jefferson and Monticello in twentieth-century American popular culture and thought, the preservationist movement
in the United States, the history of education in New York City, and U.S. ethnic history.
Organization and Arrangement
Arranged in the following series:
- Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation.
- New York City Board of Education.
- City Colleges of New York.
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Kuper, Theodore Fred, 1886-1981--Archives.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Lawyers--United States--Archival resources.
Education--New York City--20th century.
Historic buildings--Conservation and restoration--Monticello (Va.).