Orator Fuller Cook (1867-1949) was born in Clyde, New York. He was educated at Syracuse University, receiving the Ph.B. degree in 1890. After graduation, Cook remained at Syracuse as an Instructor in the Biology Department. From 1891 to 1897, Cook made several trips to Liberia as an agent for the New York Colonization Society and at various times served as Professor of Natural Sciences at Liberia College. In 1895, Cook joined the staff of the United States National Museum (USNM), in an honorary capacity, as Custodian of the Section of Myripoda of the Department of Insects. In 1898, Cook was appointed to a salaried position, as Assistant Curator in the Division of Plants, USNM. He resigned the following year to join the United States Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Plant Industry, where he remained until his death. He continued his association with the USNM as Custodian of the Section of Myripoda and was made Honorary Assistant Curator of the Section of Cryptogamic Collections of the Division of Plants in 1899.
Smithsonian Institution Archives Field Book Project: Person : Description : rid_268_pid_EACP265
Orator F. Cook was an American botanist who specialized in cotton and rubber plants, as well as in the classification of palms. Born in 1867 in Clyde, New York, Cook graduated from Syracuse University in 1890, where he stayed on as an instructor for one year. He traveled extensively in many parts of the world collecting botanical specimens, and from 1891 to 1898 he was employed as a special agent of the New York State Colonization Society. He spent much of his time in Liberia, and in 1896, Cook was elected president of Liberia College, a position, which he held until 1898. From 1898 he served as a plant scientist with the U. S. Department of Agriculture, where he became Principal Botanist. He published almost four hundred books and articles during his life, and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science by Syracuse University in 1930.
From the guide to the Cook, Orator F. Papers, 1889-1898, (Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)