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Paul Philips Cooke Papers

Identifier: 100

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of works and materials collected or authored by Paul Phillips Cooke. Items include clippings, correspondence, reports, meeting minutes, pamphlets, and publications from a variety of organizations, including the Cosmos and Torch Clubs. Additionally, there is information on Cooke's time as a student at Miners Teachers College and as President of the D.C. Teachers College.


  • Creation: 1871-2000


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Use

There are no known restrictions on the use of the material.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. Paul Phillips Cooke was born in New York City in 1917 and moved to Washington DC with his parents at the age of four. Cooke attended DC public schools graduating from Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School in 1933. Cooke earned a Bachelor of Science degree in English in 1937 from Miner Teachers College and a Master of Arts degree in Education in 1941 from New York University, a Master of Arts degree in English Literature in 1943 from the Catholic University of America, and a Doctorate in Education in 1947 from Columbia University. Cooke worked as a Professor of English at DC Teachers College from 1944 to 1974. Cooke was named the college’s president in 1966 and served in that capacity until 1974. The University of the District of Columbia awarded him with an honorary degree and the U.D.C. Legacy Award in 2004. Throughout his life Cooke was deeply involved in education and many local DC government issues. Cooke actively participated in many social movements including , the Black Power movement, the desegregation of DC schools and the struggle for civil rights.


16 Linear feet

16 Boxes


Series 1: Works (1933-1994)
The materials in this series consist of addresses, lectures, and talks written and given by Paul Phillps Cooke from early in his career until after his retirement on a variety of subjects.

Series 2: Central and Cardozo High Schools, Miner Teachers College, D.C. Teachers College, and University of the District of Columbia (1937-1995)
The records in this series pertain to Cooke’s career as a student and educator. During this period, Cooke served as President at D.C. Teachers College. These materials also reflect his involvement in education for Black students in Washington, D.C.

Series 3: The Cosmos Club (1904-2001)
This series contains items related to Cooke’s long-standing relationship with the Cosmos Club, a private social club in Washington, D.C. and events held at this venue.
Sub-series 1: This sub-series consists of items related to the Cosmos Club and events held at the Club.
Sub-series 2: This sub-series contains Cooke’s and other members’ application materials, as well as items related to governance issues and the controversy surrounding the issue of allowing women into the Club.

Series 4: The John Carroll Society (1967-1986)
These materials record Cooke’s active participation in the John Carroll Society (JCS), a local society for the enrichment of Catholic professionals.

Series 5: The Torch Club (1985-1998)
This series contains records related to Cooke’s tenure as a member of the Torch Club, an organization for professional and academic men and women.

Series 6: Advisory Neighborhood Councils (1974-1975)
Items in this series document Cooke’s interest in the formation of Advisory Neighborhood Councils, local non-partisan bodies made up of elected representatives that are a unique feature of the District of Columbia’s Home Rule Charter.

Series 7: Subject Files (1917-2004)
This series contains a variety of materials focused mainly on African-American issues and the history of Washington, D.C.

Series 8: Audio Files (1954-1965)
The content of these audio files is unknown, as the processor was unable to listen to reel to reel tapes. One tape broken in the attempt.

Custodial History

This collection was donated to the Library by Paul Phillips Cooke in eight separate gifts between 1999 and 2001.

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed as part of the 2016 D.C. Africana Project, a grant project administered by the George Washington University. Basic archival procedures and organization were applied at that time. In 2019, the collection was reprocessed, including additional materials missed during the initial processing effort. Standard archival procedures were applied in accordance with the Library's processing manual. The files were shifted and reorganized into eight series. Duplicate materials were weeded from the collection and discarded at that time. Additionally, the processor removed all clips and deteriorating fasteners, photocopied clippings, and made redacted copies of any items containing sensitive or personal information. Four audio cassettes (three New York Times and one Washingtonian magazine) believed to be books on tape were discarded.

Paul Philips Cooke
An inventory of Paul Philips Cooke at DC Public Library
D.C. Africana Archives Project
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2019: Additional processing competed by Susan Watterson, intern.
  • 2020-08-26: Finding aid revised to be more evergreen.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001