Skip to main content

Cook, Walter Wheeler, 1873-1943



  • Existence: 1873-1943


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.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Walter Wheeler Cook (1873-1943) Papers

Identifier: 17/24
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 (1935 to 1944). The core of this collection relates to Cook's role as one of the "originating four" professors at the...
Dates: 1898-1944