After touring Senegal and Gambia, Cooper returned to Toronto to begin her MA degree. Her thesis, which began her career studying Black Canadian history, was a study of Black teachers in Ontario from 1850 to 1870.
In 2000, she completed a Ph.D. dissertation about the life of Henry Bibb, a fugitive slave from Kentucky, who became an abolitionist in Canada. As a result of this original research, Cooper was named a “Kentucky Colonel,” the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s highest award. In tandem with this award, the Canadian government recognized Cooper’s dissertation by designating Bibb a person of national historic significance.
The Hanging of Angélique: The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal (HarperCollins, 2006) is the result of years of Cooper’s original research. It is the first account of this story published in English, as well as the first history of slavery in Canada written in English. The Hanging of Angélique, based on Marie-Joseph Angélique‘s trial record, was shortlisted for the 2006 Governor General’s Literary Award nominations for non-fiction.
The Hanging of Angélique – The Untold Story of Canadian Slavery and the Burning of Old Montréal (Toronto: HarperCollins, 2006).
The Underground Railroad, Next Stop: Toronto (Toronto: Natural Heritage Books, 2002).
We’re Rooted Here and They Can’t Pull Us Up: Essays in African Canadian Women’s History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994; reprint 1999). Winner of the Joseph Brant Award for History.