- 1913 - 1961 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
1 box, 7cm
Name of creator
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.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Content and structure area
Scope and content
REC/2: Roland Edgar Cooper – Correspondence and Papers, 1913-1961
REC/2/1: Correspondence and Papers – Isaac Bayley Balfour, 1913-1919
Folder of papers presumably retained by Isaac Bayley Balfour. Includes correspondence; Notes on Environment of Plants of Seed Numbers, Gathered in Bhutan, 1914, by R.E. Cooper; List of Seeds sent by Cooper, via A.K. Bulley, Sikkim and Tibet, 1913.
REC/2/2: Correspondence and Papers – British Museum, 1930,1952
Folder of correspondence between William Wright Smith and Brian Burtt of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and George Taylor of the British Museum (Natural History) regarding the sending of Cooper's specimens to the British Museum for determinations - this includes plant lists. There are also two lists with duplicates: 1-2. "Determination of Indian Plants collected by RE Cooper Esq 1914- for British Museum, 1st list, Edin." and 3-4. "Identification of Plants for the British Museum. Coll. RE Cooper, 2nd list, Jan. 1930"
REC/2/3: Correspondence and Papers – Assorted Documents, 1916-1961
Assorted documents relating to R.E. Cooper, provenance unknown and arranged by date where known.
• Extract from letter dated 18th September 1916 from Sir Isaac Bayley Balfour to Roland Edgar Cooper [in Cooper's hand? written out on Cooper's lecture notes?] Original copy in Isaac Bayley Balfour correspondence folder: GB235 REC/2/1/19
• Typescript of two letters, the first from William Wright Smith to Isaac Bayley Balfour, 27/05/1921; the second from R.E. Cooper to William Wright Smith, 04/06/1921 from the Botanic Garden in Maymo, Burma.
• [William Wright Smith?] to R.E. Cooper, 28/06/1929 regarding identification of plants.
• R.E. Cooper's collecting numbers - brief summary by Cooper with two copies, 03/03/1931.
• Modern list outlining Cooper's ethnographic donations to the National Museums of Scotland in 1931-32.
• Partial copy of John Anthony's "Remarkable Alpine Lobelia from Bhutan" published in the Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, July 1936.
• List of determinations of Bhutan grasses sent on loan to Dr. Bor of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, 01/05/1948. "R.E. Cooper's collection"
• letter: R.E. Cooper to Harold Roy Fletcher, 10/10/1961
• Three pages of Collection Numbers entitled "Cooper's Bhutan Collection" - undated.
• "Cooper's Saxifragas, etc." arranged according to Engler et Irmscher Monograph - undated.