Guide to the Walter Wheeler Cook (1873-1943) Papers

Collection Title: Walter Wheeler Cook (1873-1943) Papers
Dates: 1898-1944
Identification: 17/24
Creator: Cook, Walter Wheeler, 1873-1943
Extent: 2 Boxes
Language of Materials: English
Abstract: The Walter Wheeler Cook Papers consist of 1.5 archival boxes, spanning the years 1898 to 1944. Materials include: biographical items; correspondence; items relating to the Institute for the Study of Law at Johns Hopkins University; papers and addresses; journal articles; and class notes. Relatively little of the collection covers his years as professor of law at Northwestern from 1935 to 1944. The core of this collection relates to Cook's role as one of the “originating four" professors at the Institute for the Study of Law at Johns Hopkins University from 1928 to 1933.
Included in the collection are extensive typed manuscripts relating to his plans for the creation of the Institute, and his correspondence and typed manuscripts exchanged with his colleagues relating to the formation and closing of the Institute. Also of particular interest is Cook's general correspondence, which includes letters he received from noted jurists and others.
Acquisition Information: The Walter Wheeler Cook Papers were transferred to the Northwestern University of Archives by Chris Simoni of the Northwestern University Law Library on January 4, 2000, as Accession # 00-6. Addition This addition to the Walter Wheeler Cook Papers was transferred to the University Archives by Chris Simoni of the Northwestern University Law Library as Accession #00-219 on June 19, 2000.
Processing Information: Alan Streicker, January 2000, and Robert Pruter, March 2000 Addition Jennifer Liebman and Janet Olson, July 2000.
Separated Materials: One and one-half inch of duplicate and extraneous material was discarded. One academic hood was separated to the Artifacts collection. Addition A few duplicate or extraneous items were discarded; two copies of a 1937 report, “The Sixth Partial Report of the University Survey Committee: Chapter IV, University Unity” (Cook was a member of the committee) were added to the University Archives' General Files.
Conditions Governing Access: None Addition None
Repository: Northwestern University Archives
Deering Library, Room 110
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston, IL, 60208-2300
URL: http://www.library.northwestern.edu/archives
Email: archives@northwestern.edu
Phone: 847-491-3354

Biographical/Historical Information

Walter Wheeler Cook was born in Columbus, Ohio, on June 4, 1873. He attended Rutgers College (1890-1891), and then Columbia College, receiving his A.B. degree in 1894. He served as assistant professor of mathematics at Columbia in 1894-1895 and 1897-1900. As holder of the John Tyndall Traveling Fellowship in Physics at Columbia, he studied experimental and mathematical physics in Germany (1895-1897). Cook then studied law at Columbia University's School of Law and Faculty of Political Science (1897-1901), receiving his A.M. degree in 1899 and his L.L.M. degree in 1901. He was awarded the Toppen Prize in Comparative Constitutional Law in 1899.

Cook joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska in 1901 as an instructor, and served as professor of law there, 1903-1904. He then served as professor of law at University of Missouri (1904-1906), University of Wisconsin (1906-1910), University of Chicago (1910-1916), Yale University (1916-1919), Columbia University (1919-1922), and again at Yale University (1922-1928).

Perhaps stemming from his background in scientific research, Cook wrote many articles on the application of scientific methods to the study of law. His first article was published in 1901, his first article on the subject of studying law scientifically in 1919. He wrote two text books on law, Cases on Pleading (with E.W. Hinton) (1923) and Cases on Equity (1923-1926 1st ed., 1932 2nd ed.).

Cook served as visiting professor of jurisprudence at the Johns Hopkins University (1926-1928) before joining the faculty as professor of law (1928-1933). While at Johns Hopkins University, he was one of the “originating four” professors who established and carried out the work of the school's Institute for the Study of Law, which was set up as a legal research institute to study law scientifically. The Institute was closed in 1933.

Cook joined the faculty of Northwestern University in the fall of 1935, and served as professor of law there, specializing in conflict of laws and contract law courses until his retirement in 1942. He died in 1943. He was survived by his wife, Elizabeth Iddings Cook, whom he had married in 1931, and by four daughters from his first marriage to Helen Newman, who had died in1929—Helen Coburn Law, Dorothy Breland, Mary Hall, and Edith Cook.

Scope and Content

The Walter Wheeler Cook Papers consist of 1.5 archival boxes, spanning the years 1898 to 1944. Materials include: biographical items; correspondence; items relating to the Institute for the Study of Law at Johns Hopkins University; papers and addresses; journal articles; and class notes. Relatively little of the collection covers his years as professor of law at Northwestern from 1935 to 1944. The core of this collection relates to Cook's role as one of the “originating four” professors at the Institute for the Study of Law at Johns Hopkins University from 1928 to 1933.

Included in the collection are extensive typed manuscripts relating to his plans for the creation of the Institute, and his correspondence and typed manuscripts exchanged with his colleagues relating to the formation and closing of the Institute. Also of particular interest is Cook's general correspondence, which includes letters he received from noted jurists and others.

The folder of biographical items, arranged chronologically, largely contains reports by Cook to the President's Office at Northwestern University, detailing his research and publication efforts while professor of law. His 1939 report includes a detailed record of his education and faculty positions from 1890 to 1939, as well as a list of his publications.

Six folders of general correspondence, arranged chronologically by date from 1917 to 1944, include both incoming and outgoing letters. The bulk of the correspondence dates from the late 1920s. The correspondence ranges from business letters discussing such mundane subjects as scheduling publication of his articles to letters with colleagues in the field exchanging ideas on the subject of law. Some of this correspondence includes letters Cook received from noted jurists, commenting on his work, including Supreme Court justices Louis D. Brandeis (folder 3), Benjamin Cardozo (folder 3), Oliver Wendell Holmes (folders 2, 4, 5), Robert H. Jackson (folder 6), and Harlan F. Stone (folders 3, 5, 6); and Secretary of State Elihu Root (folder 3), who was also a legal scholar. The folders contain photostatic copies of these letters; the original letters are in the custody of the University Archivist.

There are three folders relating to Cook's association with the Institute for the Study of Law at Johns Hopkins University from 1928 to 1933. The first folder, spanning the years 1927 to 1932, contains correspondence and typed manuscript articles, arranged chronologically, that discuss Cook's plans for the creation of such an institute, and outline its formation, and its operation. The second folder, covering the year 1933, contains two groups of correspondence and typed-manuscript articles exchanged with colleagues in the field that provide a valuable history of the formation and the closing of the Institute. Each of the folders in these two groups is arranged chronologically–The third folder, spanning the years 1928 to 1931, contains various loose clippings from newspapers and magazines, as well as a scrapbook of articles and editorials from newspapers around the country commenting on the founding of the Institute.

Included in this series is a folder of a few typed manuscript papers and addresses, spanning 1927 to 1939, arranged chronologically, that relate to Cook's interest in academic freedom and curriculum issues.

Published reprints of Cook's journal articles, arranged chronologically from 1906 to 1941, fill two folders. Many of the early articles relate to his work on the scientific study of law. His later work, written while he was at Northwestern University, largely deals with issues relating to contract law.

Also included are Cook's handwritten class notes he took as a law student in his course on Roman Law under Monroe Smith at Columbia University. The notes, arranged chronologically by date, cover the period from October, 1898 to May, 1899.

Description of the addition:

This addition to the Walter Wheeler Cook Papers spans the years 1923 to 1943. The bulk of the addition consists of teaching files, speeches and writings. A number of items were interfiled in the original series. Correspondence between Cook and colleagues concerning articles, speeches, and legal philosophy was added to the appropriate chronological folders (Box 1, folders 2-6). Reprints of articles concerning the organization and structure of the Yale Law School (1917), “The Legal Method” (1933), and “Oliver Wendell Holmes: Scientist” (1935) were added to the articles folders (Box 1, folders 10-11).

Additional correspondence outside the date spans of the original series was filed chronologically. One folder contains correspondence between Cook and Francis Philbrick of the University of Illinois Law School regarding Philbrick's review of Cook's Cases on Equity; Philbrick was particularly concerned that Cook had seemed to disparage the work of earlier legal writers.

Cook's teaching files include notes, readings, and exam questions from courses he taught at the University of Chicago, Yale, and University of North Carolina, as well as from his teaching career at the Northwestern University School of Law. One folder contains notes taken on Cook's jurisprudence course at Yale by one Thomas Lavery.

Cook prepared “Readings in Legal Methods” for his students at Northwestern. The paper-bound version of this collection in Box 1, folder 6 seems to have served as a common-place book for Cook; the pages are stuffed with newspaper clippings, notes, aphorisms, and quotations from such sources as Alice in Wonderland. A more streamlined “Readings” follows in folder 7.

Examination questions are divided into those administered by Cook prior to his arrival at Northwestern, those administered at Northwestern, and undated exams. Exams were based on Cook's courses in equity, conflict of laws, and jurisprudence. Some of the earlier exams are printed; later ones are typed.

Cook's papers and speeches include “Report before the committee on the establishment of a Permanent organization for the improvement of the Law proposing the Establishment of an American Law institute” (1923); “What shall we do with our Radicals” (1923); “Modern Concepts of Law”(1929); “How the Law Functions” (1933); “Illinois Civil practice Act' (1934).

Undated speeches include “The Application of the Original Law of a Country to Acts Committed by Foreigners Outside the Jurisdiction”(2 versions); “Memorandum on the Padlock Provision of the Volstead Act”; “The Relation of Equity to Common Law” (2 versions); “A Scientific Approach to the Study of law”; and “A University School of Jurisprudence”. One folder contains an excerpt from a 1923 proposal for the establishment of an American Law Institute.

Undated or fragmentary writings include an undated four-part lecture series on “Law and Reason,” a chapter or section on “Rights ‘in rem’ and ‘in personam’,” and draft chapters from Cook's Logical and Legal Bases of the Conflict of Laws (Harvard University Press, 1942).

Subjects

Corporate Name

Johns Hopkins University. Institute of Law

Personal Name

Cook, Walter Wheeler, 1873-1943

Subjects

Law teachers--United States

Law--Study and teaching--United States


Container List / Contents

  • Teaching Files
    • Notes from jurisprudence course, Yale, 1926Box 2, Folder 5
    • “Readings in Legal Method”, 1940Box 2, Folder 6
    • “Readings in Legal Method”, n.d.Box 2, Folder 7
    • Exam questions: Non-Northwestern University courses, 1918-1934Box 2, Folder 8
    • Exam questions: Northwestern University courses, 1930-1943Box 3, Folder 1
    • Exam questions, n.d.Box 3, Folder 2
    • Examination results, 1936-1940Box 3, Folder 3
  • Speeches and Writings
    • Speeches, Addresses, Papers, 1923-34, n.d.Box 3, Folder 4
    • Proposal for establishing an American Law Institute, 1923Box 3, Folder 5
    • Lecture series: “Law and Reason”, n.dBox 3, Folder 6
    • “Part III: Rights ‘in rem’ and ‘in personam’”, n.d.Box 3, Folder 7
    • (chs. 1,2, conclusion), n.d.Box 3, Folder 8
  • Biographical Materials, 1935-1943Box 1, Folder 1
  • Correspondence, 1917-1919Box 1, Folder 2
  • Correspondence, 1926-1927Box 1, Folder 3
  • Correspondence, 1928-1930Box 1, Folder 4
  • Correspondence, 1931-1933Box 1, Folder 5
  • Correspondence, 1934-1944Box 1, Folder 6
  • Correspondence and Articles, Institute of Law, 1927-1932Box 1, Folder 7
  • Correspondence and Articles, Institute of Law, 1933Box 1, Folder 8
  • Articles About W.W. Cook/Institute of Law, 1928-1931Box 1, Folder 9
  • Papers and Addresses, 1935-1939Box 1, Folder 10
  • Articles and Reprints, 1906-1929Box 1, Folder 11
  • Articles and Reprints, 1931-1941Box 1, Folder 12
  • Class Notes, Books I-II, 1898Box 2, Folder 1
  • Class Notes, Books III-IV, 6 Booklets, 1899Box 2, Folder 2
  • Correspondence, 1923Box 2, Folder 3
  • Philbrick correspondence, 1926Box 2, Folder 4