Dr. Cooper, 629 E. Seminary St., Greencastle, was recognized as a Distinguished Hoosier Historian for his work with the historic bridges of Putnam County and the state of Indiana.
While Cooper's professional career has spanned several decades as a professor of history at DePauw University, the DAR Monday honored him as a "Professor of Bridges," according to Jinsie Bingham, state public relations and media chairman for Indiana Daughters.
In honoring Cooper, Bingham quoted Marsh Davis, president of Historic Landmarks of Indiana.
"For many years a visionary has been hard at work along the byways and highways of Indiana, studying, documenting and urging the preservation of historic metal and concrete bridges," Davis said. "Dr. James L. Cooper has persisted in his message that old bridges are richly expressive of our cultural heritage and are resources worth preserving. Cooper sees these bridges as products of resilient human enterprise and ingenuity ..."
In 2010 the Indiana Historical Society presented Dr. Cooper with the Dorothy Riker Hoosier Historian award at its annual Founders Day celebration. The award is made annually to a historian who has made distinguished contributions to the field of Historical Scholarship. Cooper also received the Sandi Servass Memorial Award from Indiana Landmarks.
Cooper was also recognized on that national level in Oklahoma City with an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local Leadership. He was recognized for a lifetime of researching, preserving and promoting the history of Indiana Historic Bridges.
Back in 1978 while still on the faculty at DePauw, Dr. Cooper, working with the state, agreed to record all the historic bridges in Indiana. The end result of those years of study is a masterpiece of preservation and perseverance resulting in the recognition of Cooper as the pre-eminent bridge expert in the Hoosier State.
An emeritus professor of history at DPU, Cooper joined the faculty in 1964.
Cooper has authored several books about bridges. One of them, "Iron Monuments to Distant Posterity," features 28 bridges from Putnam County.