Forrest Lamar Cooper was born in Jackson, Mississippi, on October 12, 1944, and has lived in Florence, Mississippi, for most of his life. He graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in general business and served in the U.S. Air Force. He was employed as a Senior Customer Service Agent with Delta Air Lines until his retirement in 1995. He subsequently took a job as information officer for the USDA Forest Service in Jackson and has served as manager for the Community College Network, a distance-learning program for Mississippi's community colleges. He is fascinated by and knowledgeable about Mississippi history, authoring books on Mississippi trivia, contributing frequent articles to Mississippi Magazine, and offering personalized tours of Jackson and other Mississippi locations.
Cooper began collecting postcards in the early 1970s, when he purchased two old postcard albums in a local antiques store. Cooper used about fifty items that were related to Mississippi subjects as a foundation for this collection and traded or sold the unrelated cards. He has acquired postcards by purchase or trade throughout the state, during extensive out-of-state travel, through correspondence with other traders, and attendance at annual trade shows.
The Forrest Lamar Cooper Postcard Collection consists of approximately 4600 color and black-and-white postcards. The majority of cards in this collection, which spans the years 1892 to 1927, predate World War I and are concentrated on a theme of Mississippiana, featuring scenes of small towns, mineral springs, agricultural and forestry activities, and railroads.
Location and date information was printed clearly on many cards. Some of the postcards were unidentified when Cooper purchased them, but he performed research by referring to history texts and conducting interviews sufficient to write about many of the postcards in the collection. Therefore, all of the cards in the collection are identified to some degree and may be accessed through keyword (description, city, county, state) search on the Web site and by subject headings through the MDAH online catalog.
The Forrest Lamar Cooper Postcard Collection was acquired by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) from Forrest Lamar Cooper on November 13, 1991. The collection consists of approximately 4600 postcards. In April 2007, the MDAH Archives and Records Services Division's Image and Sound section began scanning the postcards, creating preservation-quality, negative TIFF images. These were then converted to Web-friendly, positive JPEG images by the Electronic Archives section and made available online within the MDAH Electronic Archives Graphic User Interface.