Series 4 - Roland Edgar Cooper: Cooper's Photographs

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Reference code

GB235 REC/4


Roland Edgar Cooper: Cooper's Photographs


  • 1913 - 1961 (Creation)

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1 box, 10cm

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Name of creator


Biographical history

Roland Edgar Cooper was born in 1890 in Kingston-Upon-Thames, but lost both his parents by the age of four. He came to be cared for by his aunt Emma Wiedhofft who was married to William Wright Smith, eventual Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It was this association that was to shape Cooper's career - he travelled to Calcutta with Smith in 1907 when he became in charge of the Herbarium there, travelling and collecting botanical specimens in Sikkim, Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. In 1910, Cooper and Smith returned, and Cooper took the Horticultural course at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
In 1913, Cooper returned to the Himalayas to collect plants for A.K. Bulley of Ness, near Liverpool. He travelled through Sikkim in 1913, Bhutan in 1914-15, and the Punjab in 1916.
In 1921, after the First World War, during which Cooper served in the Indian Army, he was appointed Superintendent of the Botanic Garden at Maymo in the Shan Hills of Burma, eventually returning to Scotland in the late 1920's for the education of his son. From 1930-1934 Cooper worked at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh as the Garden Curator's assistant, taking the role of Curator (Head Gardener) himself in 1934, a post he held until his retirement in 1950. Post retirement, he and his wife Emily Bartusek moved to Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex.
During his career, Cooper became a Fellow of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, the Royal Anthropological Institute, the Royal Caledonian Horticultural Society, the Botanical Society of Edinburgh (now Scotland), the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Anthropological Society. He was also the vice-president of the Scottish Rock Garden Club, of which he was a founder member.

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REC/4: Roland Edgar Cooper – Photographs, 1913-1961
The Cooper Photograph Collection has been collated from a number of sources; some have been held in the RBGE Archives for some time, some have been donated and some purchased at auction.
REC/4/1: Photographs – RBGE, 1913-1932
Envelope of 13 photographs which have been historically filed in the archives with Cooper's correspondence, etc. including one of Cooper in 1913; Edgar Cooper and son Bill at Rangoon House, 1924-5; plants and scenery in Bhutan, including two plants collected by Cooper and growing at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh in the 1930s.
REC/4/2: Photographs – Auction Lot, c.1880-1959
Set of four photograph albums and an envelope of family photographs and correspondence purchased at auction in 2009 and stored together in one box.
REC/4/2/1: 1. Photograph album of Himalayan views, people and plants. Undated [1913 onwards?]
REC/4/2/2: 2. Photograph album of Himalayan views, people and plants. Undated [1913 onwards?]
REC/4/2/3: 3. Photograph 'album' compiled by Cooper - "Photographs of the Robes worn in a Tibetan Priest Play and also some Movements of the Dance". Photographs by R.E. Cooper at Tongsa and Tashigong Djongs and others in the Eastern Himalaya, 1915.
REC/4/2/4: 4. Album of photographs taken at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, all taken by Cooper except for two taken by Garden Photographer Robert Moyes Adam, with accompanying poetry [written by Cooper?], [c.1934-1950?]
REC/4/2/5: 5. Envelope of family photographs, correspondence, genealogical information relating to Cooper / Wiedhofft family, newspaper clipping with family information and pencil drawing of unknown face. Includes two Himalayan photographs, one of Rhoomoo/Rhomoo Lepcha, Sikkim, 1913 with Meconopsis paniculata, and the other of Rhododendron griffithianum, Bhutan, 1914.
REC/4/3: Photographs – Donation, c.1913-1950
These photographs were donated to the RBGE Archives in 2010 from a private collection. There are only three original photographs amongst them; the rest were digitised and returned to the owner and are represented in the collection by a cd and a set of modern prints.
REC/4/3/1: Birthday card dated 15/06/1950 sent to May Kerr by R.E. Cooper including a poem by Cooper and his photograph of Rhoomoo Lepcha with Meconopsis wallichiana (Bhutan 1914).
REC/4/3/2/1-11: Set of 11 digitised photographs from a private collection showing Cooper, his family including wife Emily and son Bill, the Kerr family and Cooper and William Wright Smith with King George V and Queen Mary; c.1937-1949.
REC/4/3/3/1-2: Two original photographs showing a snake charmer in Calcutta in 1913.

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  • Shelf: D:3:4