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Derek Cooper Archive

Collection Details

Derek Cooper Archive held at Refugee Studies Centre Library [Institution record]

Description of Collection

Content description

The Derek Cooper Archive comprises the personal papers of Major Derek and Mrs Pamela Cooper. It covers their humanitarian work in the Middle East working with Save the Children in Jordan, and subsequent work in Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt. The collection comprises 1,730 items, each item being one bibliographic record which might be an individual document, a bundle of documents, a file or a book, and is predominantly in English. Formats found in the archive include: correspondence; reports; working papers; miscellaneos items such as speeches and statements; pamphlets, periodicals; and photographs. The covering dates of the collection is 1920-1998; the dates of accumulation 1956-1998.

History and development

Major Cooper served in Palestine from 1947-1948. In the immediate aftermath of the war he was directly involved in negotiations with the Israeli military authorities over the return to the newly-occupied territories of Palestinians displaced by the fighting. Major Cooper and his wife then spent the next forty years working in the Middle East. In 1982, after their experiences in Beirut during the Israeli siege and bombardment, the Coopers founded Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) - a British registered charity concerned primarily with providing expert medical assistance for Palestinian children in the towns and camps of the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israel war. The Coopers were also founding members of the Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), an organisation aimed at presenting a more balanced view of the conflict to the British public unfluenced up to that time by a largely pro-Israel press.

The Cooper Archive is owned by the A.M Qattan Foundation but is held on long term loan by the Refugee Studies Centre Library. The papers were lodged with the Library in late 1998 and subsequently archived by them in early 1999.


The Archive is a unique collection of personal papers spanning the Coopers' humanitarian and, later, political activities. It not only represents an historical record of the Arab-Israeli conflicts from the 1940s to the late 1990s but also provides a personal insight into the Coopers' lives and their individual lobbying of officials, media activities and lifestyle. They kept personal records of their activities, most notably the diaries used in Pamela Cooper's autobiography, 'A cloud of forgetting', and Derek Cooper's biography, 'For love of Justice' by John Baynes.

General arrangement and access regulations

The Cooper Archive is on closed access but can be consulted in the Library on request. All documents are arranged according to their provenance, ie the function which created them. The Archive (the group) is a collection of records produced by a single activity, in this case the work of the Coopers; each group is divided into sub-groups which contain records relating to a sub-division of the above activity ie their work with organisations; then sub-divided to a class which relates to a single aspect of an activity ie records relating to work with one organisation; sub-classes then relate to the format of the record eg photographs, correspondence or reports; and finally items or records which individually describe a document or file in the archive database.

Subjects of the Collection

Regions of Asia

Near & Middle East and North Africa.


Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon.

Languages of material



Communication and media, Development, History, Human rights, International relations, Politics and government, Religion.

Names relevant to the collection:

  • Cooper, Derek, 1912-
  • Cooper, Pamela, 1910-
  • Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP)
  • Council for the Advancement of Arab-British Understanding (CAABU)

Collection Material and Size of Collection

Material Types

Archival materials (includes non-published & mixed material), Books, Manuscripts, Maps (includes all types of cartographic material), Official publications, Visual materials (includes photographs, prints, drawings, videos & films).

Total size of collection

1,730 archived items (64 B1 archvial boxes)

Collection Management Information

The collection is not being actively developed.

Content date range

1920 to 1998 AD

Interlibrary loan procedure

The RSC Library does not operate an interlibrary loan facility but will fulfil document delivery requests on application if within the UK copyright regulations. Please contact RSC Library staff for further information.

Co-operative agreements

  • An agreement was signed between the A.M. Qattan Foundation and the Refugee Studies Centre in November 1999 confirming that the Cooper Archive is owned by the former but on long term loan to the latter.

Collection Catalogue Information


The Cooper Archive is not presently accessible through an online catalogue. It can be searched on an archive database which is available in the RSC Library. A hard copy version of the catalogue is available on request.

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