Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. Papers, ca. 1918-1939,n.d.

Descriptive Summary

Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. Papers, ca. 1918-1939,n.d.
Cotter, Joseph S., 1861-1949
.2 c.f.
Afro-American authors -- Kentucky.
Afro-American civic leaders -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-American composers -- Manuscripts.
Afro-American musicians -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-American neighborhoods -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-American oral tradition -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-American poets -- Kentucky.
Afro-American school principals -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-American teachers and the community -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-Americans -- Education (Elementary).
Afro-Americans -- Education -- Kentucky -- Periodicals.
Afro-Americans -- History -- 1863-1877.
Afro-Americans -- History -- 1877-1964.
Afro-Americans -- Housing -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-Americans -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Afro-Americans -- Music.
Afro-Americans -- Religion.
Afro-Americans and libraries
American literature -- Afro-American authors.
Autobiography -- Afro-American authors.
Cotter, Joseph Seamon, 1861-1949 -- Manuscripts.
Church music.
Music -- Juvenile.
Music -- Manuscripts.
Music and folklore.
Music and literature.
Music and youth -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Musical sketches.
Poetry -- Black authors.
Poetry -- Collections.
Poetry, Modern -- 20th century
Poetry and children.
Storytelling -- Kentucky -- Louisville.
Finding Aid Author
Processed by: Betsy K. Morelock; machine-readable finding aid created by:Apex Data Services
Kentucky State University

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Joseph Cotter, Sr. was born near Bardstown, Kentucky to free parents on February 2, 1861, but lived and worked in Louisville for most of his life. He is known for his poetry and story-telling, but he also wrote plays, composed music and was an educator. Cotter began teaching in 1885 and founded the Paul Laurence Dunbar School in Louisville in 1893, where he was principal until 1911 when he became principal of the Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary School in Louisville. He served as principal there until his retirement in 1942. He was also an active member of the Kentucky Negro Educational Association (KNEA) for over 50 years. Throughout his life, Cotter expressed himself with words, both written and spoken. He credits his mother, Martha Vaughn, with being his literary inspiration and learned early to use his story-telling ability to entertain. He later organized story-telling contests at the Louisville public libraries, which earned him national recognition when these events expanded nationally. Cotter published five volumes of poetry as well as a collection of plays, poems, tales, proverbs and prose. Considered among his best poems are those about children. Cotter married Maria F. Cox in 1891 and they had three children. One died in infancy and the other two did not reach the age of 25. Their only son, Joseph, Jr., had begun to follow in his father's footsteps with his poetry, and at the age of 22 published a book of poetry, The Ban of Gideon and Other Lyrics. Joseph Cotter, Sr. published his last work two years before his death on March 14, 1949.
Scope and Content
The collection consists of handwritten and typed poems; musical scores; one typed autobiography (17 pages); one 1939 KNEA journal, which features a brief article on Cotter's career; and one book of poetry, Sequel to the Pied Piper of Hamelin and Other Poems, 1939. The collection is complemented by additional books by both Cotter, Sr. and Cotter, Jr. in Kentucky State's Rare Books Collection. Books included in Kentucky State's Special Collections by Joseph Cotter, Sr. include: A White Song and A Black One 1909; Twenty-fifth Anniversary of the Founding of Colored Parkland or "Little Africa," Louisville, Ky., 1934; and Collected Poems of Joseph S. Cotter, 1938. Also included is Joseph Cotter, Jr.'s The Ban of Gideon and Other Lyrics. Approximately .2cf.

Contents of the Collection

Music Series

Musical Score - Musical Score & Words - "Etude" - Handwritten, signed - 1933.

  • Box 1, folder 1
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"Etude" - Printed, Foust Commercial Service - Copyright 1933 by Joseph S. Cotter 1933.

  • Box 1, folder 2
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Musical Score & Worlds - "He Knows" - Handwritten - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 3
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Musical Score & Words - "The Pit-A-Pat Man" - Signed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 4
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Musical Score & Words - "Waltz" - Handwritten - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 5
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Personal Series

Autobiography - "Mother & Her Family" by Joseph S. Cotter -[1923].

  • Box 1, folder 6
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Poetry Series

"I'se Wondering" - Handwritten - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 7
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"I'se Wondering" - Typed, signed by Joseph S. Cotter - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 8
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"Love's Way - Handwritten, signed - August 4, 1919.

  • Box 1, folder 9
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"Love's Way" - Typed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 10
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"Reward" - Handwritten, signed by Joseph S. Cotter, Jr. - April 30, 1918.

  • Box 1, folder 11
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"The Reward" - Handwritten, signed - July 4, 1919.

  • Box 1, folder 12
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"The Reward" - Typed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 13
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"Spoon River Antology" - Typed, signed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 14
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"A Story" - Handwritten, signed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 15
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"The Threshing Floor" - Pamphlet - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 16
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"The Ways of Black Folk" - Handwritten, signed - n.d.

  • Box 1, folder 17
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Publications Series

K.N.E.A Journal - January-February, 1939.

  • Box 1, folder 18
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