Jun 22, 2011

A Man Who Recorded History

Austin Cooper lived from 1759-1830 and was a historian. His family calls him the Antiquary to distinguish him from the many Austins in the family line. Ge was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries in London, but perhaps his greatest contribution to preserving history was his drawings. He traveled about Ireland on official business (collecting taxes) and sketched the ancient ruins and prehistoric sites, thus preserving on paper some of what can no longer be seen.

He was not alone in his desire to record history, thankfully. Besides his contemporaries, Austin's descendants worked to print and preserve some of these drawings. The material was kept in the family near Dublin until about 1960 when it was transfer with another descendant to England. The National Library of Ireland eventually acquired it and O'Brien Press published a book in 2000, Cooper's Ireland, Drawings and Notes from an Eighteenth-Century Gentleman.

There are drawings by Cooper in the National Library that are not in this book, and the library also has 18th century drawings by others as well.

You can read more about Austin Cooper and see some of his sketches on this blog by a member of his family.

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