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Harvey Tolliver Cook: From Stable Hand to Baptist Scholar
Created for History 21, 2005

“…[was] noted for [his] loyalty, stability, and Christian gentleness
and came to be associated with the spirit of Furman
in the tradition of James C. Furman and C.H. Judson.”

H.T. Cook was a professor at Furman University from 1881-1918. Born in 1848 in Abbeville County, SC, Cook had a rural upbringing that involved more farm chores than Greek or Latin, so it often comes as a bit of a surprise to people to learn that he taught these subjects at the collegiate level for 37 years (unknown newspaper). The beloved son of a fairly wealthy family, Cook earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Furman University and was awarded an honorary doctorate from the university. He devoted much of his life to the Baptist faith and took part in many church activities throughout his life. Being able to combine his devotion to his religion and love for academic studies proved invigorating for Cook, extending his life into the age of 94. Cook left an indelible mark on the Furman community with his creation of the Baptist Historical Collection, a collection of the publications and annual records of Baptist associations throughout the South, which he began in 1890 (Reid 30). Besides being one of the premier collections of Southern Baptist materials in the world, the Baptist Historical Collection parallels a national movement to organize the historical profession, evident in the 1884 formation of the American Historical Association. Though the Board of Trustees had allocated 10% of Furman's budget to developing an archival collection in 1830, it was not until sixty years later in 1890, that H.T. Cook began the society (King 275). Today, the Baptist Historical Collection is part of the Special Collections Department at the James B. Duke Library at Furman University.


King, Joe M. "A History of South Carolina Baptists." Columbia: The R.L. Brian Company, 1964.

Newspaper clipping, undated. “Biographical” folder. Box 1. Harvey T. Cook Papers. Special Collections and Archives. Furman University Library.

Reid, Alfred Sandlin. Furman University: Toward a New Identity, 1925-1975. Durham: Duke University Press, 1976.