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Walter Platt Cooke papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2-1-10

Scope and Contents

The papers of Walter Platt Cooke reflect his service to the University of Buffalo and document major changes within the University during the 1920's. The papers cover the period 1916-1924 and 1928-1930, with the bulk of the material falling within the years 1920-1922 when Cooke was Acting Chancellor of the University of Buffalo, Chairman of the Endowment Campaign, and a member of the search committee to select a new Chancellor. The papers include correspondence, 1916-1924, 1928-1930; financial documents, committee lists, and printed materials from the U.B. Endowment Campaigns of 1920 and 1929; clippings, 1920-1922; and a memorial volume containing published obituaries of Cooke, 1931.

The correspondence includes letters regarding the reorganization of the U.B. Council, 1916-1920, which was undertaken to ensure widespread financial support in the Endowment Campaign, including provisional letters of resignation from Council members, 1917, and from Chancellor Charles P. Norton, 1918. Much of the correspondence pertains to the Endowment Campaign of 1920 and documents its success in raising over five million dollars which financed the reorganization and expansion of the University in the 1920's. There is also correspondence, 1920-1922, of the committee to select a new Chancellor, chaired by John Lord O'Brian, including correspondence with candidates and recommendations, as well as correspondence with and about Dr. Samuel Paul Capen, the man selected to become the first full-time Chancellor of the University of Buffalo. Also included is correspondence regarding Capen's inauguration and the dedication of Foster Hall. The correspondence, 1928-1930, mainly pertains to the 1929 Endowment Campaign, but also encompasses aspects of the physical development of the University as revealed in correspondence with building contractors, the Council's Committee on Buildings and Grounds, and with Thomas B. Lockwood concerning his vision of a new library.

The years from 1916-1922 were critical in the transformation of the University from a loose collection of professional schools to an integrated university. During this period, the College of Arts and Science, begun in 1913, became a full four year undergraduate program, the University began its move to the Main Street campus, the first major endowment was raised--showing strong community support for U.B.-- and the first full-time administrators of the University, Treasurer George Crofts and Chancellor Samuel P. Capen, were appointed in 1921 and 1922, respectively.

Among Walter P. Cooke's correspondents were:

  • Barcalo, Edward J., U.B. Council member, Committee on General Administration
  • Buttrick, Wallace, Chairman, General Education Board
  • Capen, Samuel P., President American Council on Education; Chancellor, University of Buffalo
  • Cowper, John W., prime contractor for University of Buffalo construction
  • Crofts, George D., Treasurer, U.B. Council
  • Crosby, William H., Member U.B. Council
  • Eastman, George, Manufacturer, inventor (Kodak), donor to institutions of higher education, including U.B.
  • Farrand, Livingston, President Cornell University
  • Knox, Mrs. Seymour, endowed $250,000 to U.B.
  • Lockwood, Thomas B., Attorney, Member, U.B. Council, donor of Lockwood Library
  • Martin, Darwin D., Local businessman, officer in the Larkin Company
  • MacCracken, Henry N., President, Vassar College, candidate for U.B. Chancellorship
  • McConaughy, J.L., President Knox College, candidate for U.B. Chancellorship
  • Moot, Adelbert, second Dean, U.B. Law School
  • Norton, Charles P., Chancellor of U.B.
  • O'Brian, John Lord, Lawyer, Chairman, Committee on Chancellorship
  • Park, Julian, Dean College of Arts and Sciences
  • Pritchett, Henry S., President, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
  • Roosevelt, Franklin Delano, Governor, New York State
  • Vincent, George, President, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Wilcox, Ansley, Attorney
  • Dates

    • 1916-1924, 1928-1930


    Language of Materials

    Collection material in English.

    Terms of Access

    The Walter Platt Cooke Papers, 1916-1924, 1928-1930, are open for research.


    Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

    Biographical Note

    Walter Platt Cooke was a lawyer and banker in Buffalo, New York. He served as Chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo from 1920-1931, Acting Chancellor, from 1920 to 1922, and Chairman of the U.B. Endowment Fund Campaigns of 1920 and 1929. As such his papers reflect the development of the University during that period.


    1869, April 28
    Born, Buffalo, New York
    Graduated, Buffalo High School
    Graduated, Cornell University Law School
    Law Clerk at Bissell, Sicard, Brundage & Bissell
    Married May Louis Perry
    Organized firm of Brown & Cooke
    Member of Bissell, Carey & Cooke, later to become Kenefick, Cooke, Mitchell, Bass & Letchworth
    Elected President, Erie County Bar Association
    Elected to Board of Directors, Marine National Bank of Buffalo
    Elected to Board of Trustees, Cornell University
    Chairman, Liberty Loan Campaigns
    Acting Chancellor, University of Buffalo
    1920, August 3
    Elected Chairman, Council of the University of Buffalo
    1920, August 12
    Elected Chairman, Committee on General Administration
    1920, July 9-October 19
    Chairman, U.B. Endowment Fund Campaign
    President, New York State Bar Association
    President, Arbitral Tribunal of Interpretation, The Hague
    1926, April-1927, December
    U.S. Citizen Member, Reparations Commission, Paris
    Awarded Chancellor Norton Medal
    Chairman of the Board, Marine Trust Company
    Elected President of the Arbitration Board
    1931, August 4
    Died, Buffalo, New York


    .83 Linear Feet (2 manuscript boxes)


    The papers of Walter Platt Cooke, Buffalo lawyer and banker, pertain to Cooke's duties as Chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, 1920-1931; Acting Chancellor, 1920-1922; and Chairman of the U. B. Endowment Fund Campaigns of 1920 and 1929. As such, they reflect the development of the University during that period.


    This collection is arranged in three series:

    1. I. Correspondence
    2. II. University of Buffalo Endowment Campaigns
    3. III. Clippings

    Acquisition Information

    Collection transferred to the University Archives from the Hayes Hall vault, April 12, 1978. These papers were preserved by Miss Emily Webster, Assistant Treasurer of the University of Buffalo, 1930-1962, and Assistant Secretary of the Council, 1939-1962.

    Accruals and Additions

    No further accruals are expected to this collection.

    Related Resources in the University Archives

    1. 2/1/13, University Council. Minutes, 1855-1920
    2. 2/1/14, University Council. Minutes, 1920-1962
    3. 2/1/15, Committee on General Administration. Minutes, 1920-1962
    4. 2/1/17, Cooke, Walter P. Scrapbooks, 1920-1929
    5. 2/1/250, O'Brian, John Lord. Miscellanea
    6. 3/3/mf.13, U.B. History Clippings, 1920-1959 (microfilm)
    7. 4/7/19, Capen (Samuel Paul) Papers, 1898-1955
    8. 6/2/36, Treasurer and Comptroller. University Fund Raising, 1920-1953
    9. 6/2/37, Treasurer and Comptroller. Capen Inauguration and Foster Hall Dedication, 1922
    10. 15/2/119, Park (Julian) Collection, 1834-1964

    Processing Information

    Processed by Archives staff.

    Finding Aid for Walter Platt Cooke papers
    Finding aid prepared by Karen Berch and Christopher Densmore.
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the University Archives Repository

    420 Capen Hall
    Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
    716-645-3714 (Fax)