Correspondence Of U.S. Navy Commander A.M. Cook


1909 Through 1920, with 2 letters from Sec. of the Navy F.D.R.

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Allen Merriam Cook was born in 1870; a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in 1893, and served until 1919.  Most of his service was as a line officer, serving on various ships. Cook would begin to take seriously the principles of Scientific Management as put forth by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who in his retirement devoted full study and  espousing the benefits of systems management.  Cook seeing the need not only aboard his ship the USS Idaho at the time, but proposed through Navy channels, adopting these principles within the engineering departments on US navy vessels. This flow of thought and practical application can be seen through the letters, and recorded details taken by Cook during his last years in the navy.

There are other interesting facets within the correspondence for an interesting read. Cook becomes a student not only of current naval gunnery practice, but draws conclusions concerning what facility ammunition was drawn from, and the correlation between storage and effectiveness of ammunition.  He seeks to institute within his fleet competitions between the various engineering departments, as well as in gunnery practice.

When the fleet returns to Philadelphia, beside attempting to meet with Frederick Taylor, he is a constant observer of the work habits of the civilian employees at the navy yard there.  Taking copious notes, he submits his observations to the Yard commander (through channels of course) only to be told, that is not his job. He continues to monitor, and begins to make closer inspections of the work on his ship, making detailed line drawings, and further commits to recording continued problems.

There is a nice collection of real photo post cards, testing ammunition at a firing of a salvage ship. Scenes aboard the target ship (San Marcos) while observing fire damage.  The monitor USS Tennessee, which conducted the firing is seen in the background.

An interesting development with is captain, and his drinking problem creates problems with the junior officers onboard the USS Idaho.  The noise they make is always too loud, stirring up the captains anger, and his issuing orders concerning them, noise, and guests the officers wish to bring into the ward room. Cook, being Cook, takes a lot of notes concerning this affair.

We begin to see through printed orders and revised rules and regs, the changes of the system of shop management at Navy Yards, and engineering efficiency in the entire Navy.

There is a brief group of letters between Cook and The President’s Commission on Economy And Efficiency led by Frederick Albert Cleveland, an economist. One letter from Cleveland mentions they will be “glad to receive any constructive or critical suggestions in relation thereto.”  This connection with the commission will lead to the publication of “The Budget As A Means Of Locating Responsibility For Waste And Inefficiency, 1912.”

There is an invitation to meet with Admiral Dewey and The Secretary of the Navy (FDR).

In 1913 he is placed on the retirement list, and following letters come as part of closing things down, including 2 letters from FDR, Josephus Daniels, Victor Blue, etc.

As America approaches its involvement in WWI, Cook is called back to duty to organize a training facility in Detroit, Michigan, on the grounds of the Ford Motor Co..

There are a group of letters, applications etc., having to do with his becoming a member of the ORDER OF THE DRAGON, a society established to preserve the historical memory of those serving in China in 1900; membership being open only to Officers of all nations that had seen service during the Boxer Rebellion in that year. Cook was member No. 777.

This correspondence is not the blood and guts read, but the meat and potatoes of running and building a navy on the threshold of a new modern era.

Over 100 pieces.



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Weight 4 lbs