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Charles W. Cook Letters

Identifier: MSS-4335

Scope and Contents

This collection of ninety-one letters between Charles W. Cook and his wife, Esther, was sent between September and December 1952 while Charles was working for the United States Army Chemical Corps on Project Ivy at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Proving Grounds. Eighty-three of the letters are between Charles and Esther, the remaining eight are from Charles' mother, father, sister, and other military colonels. The correspondence is about the daily life of the writers as they keep in communication while on separate continents.


  • 1952-09-05 - 1952-12-12

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations. Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may require additional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections. For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Charles W. Cook (1920-2006) received a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (currently Auburn University) in the early 1940s. With the onset of World War II, the United States faced a shortage of scientists and engineers and began a fast-tracked program with engineering schools. Cook was an early participant in this program, beginning his military career around the same time. Cook served with the United States military from 1942-1972, ultimately reaching the rank of colonel. During this time Cook conducted chemistry and radiology graduate and post-graduate work. Charles Cook married his wife Esther in 1948.

Operation Ivy was the eighth in a series of nuclear tests and the first hydrogen bomb test conducted by the United States military. The bombs were tested in October and November 1952 at Eniwetok Atoll in the Pacific Proving Grounds. The first shot in the Operation Ivy tests, code-named Mike, was the first successful hydrogen bomb or thermonuclear weapon. After detonation, turbojet aircrafts were flown through the mushroom cloud to collect radiochemical samples and information. Because of the samples, captured scientists discovered the elements einsteinium and fermium. The second test, code-named King, was the highest-yield nuclear fission weapon using only nuclear fission at that time.


0.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Guide to Charles W. Cook Letters
November 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266