Robert Bruce Cooke papers, 1926-1972.

Creator: Cooke, Robert Bruce, 1902-1973.
Collection number: 4715
View finding aid.

Abstract: Robert Bruce Cooke, born in Swepsonville, N.C., who held positions in various textile mills in Virginia and North and South Carolina until 1941 when he became a supervisor at the Erwin Cotton Mills, Durham, N.C., from which he retired around 1963. He and his wife Aylene Edwards Cooke, who worked as a librarian when the couple lived in Rutherfordton, N.C., were active in many historical and art associations in the state. Included are a few items relating to the Pearl Cotton Mills, Durham, N.C., the Virginia Cotton Mills, Swepsonville, N.C., and the Mooresville Cotton Mills, Mooresville, N.C. Most items, however, relate to the Erwin Cotton Mills and include a 1909 work contract and many other items relating to the relationship between Erwin Mills and the United Textile Workers of America. Besides unionization, there are also items about workers losing jobs to machines.Many items in the 1940s relate to war production and rationing. Also included are letters, 1926-1954, relating to Cooke’s numerous job searches. Although rarely unemployed, Cooke seems always to have sought a better position within the textile industry and sent, during this period, an almost continuous stream of letters of inquiry to most mills operating in the southeast. There are also materials relating to organizations in which Robert and Aylene were active, especially the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River Valley, the English-Speaking Union, the North Carolina Society of County and Local Historians, and the Sons of the American Revolution.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: In Folder 8, there are few items from 1965 relate to the Durham City Council campaign of I. L. “Buck” Dean against Jack J. Priess, who apparently had the labor and African-American vote.