Morris Llewellyn Cooke

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Morris Llewellyn Cooke
Morris Llewellyn Cooke.jpg
Morris Llewellyn Cooke, 1911
Born (1872-05-11)May 11, 1872
Carlisle, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died March 5, 1960(1960-03-05) (aged 87)
Nationality American
Education Lehigh University
Occupation Engineer
Known for Rural Electrification

Morris Llewellyn Cooke (May 11, 1872 – March 5, 1960) was an American engineer, best known for his work on Scientific Management[1] and Rural Electrification.[2][3]


Born in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as one of eight children to William Harvey Cooke and Elizabeth Richmond Marsden, Cooke attended Lehigh University in 1895 and obtained his degree in Mechanical Engineering. After Cooke had completed college and earned his degree from Lehigh University in Mechanical Engineering he went into the work force to become a machinist.

Cooke served as the director of the Rural Electrification Administration from May 1935 through March 1937. In March 1937, Cooke resigned and was succeeded by John Carmody. In 1940 Cooke became a technical consultant for the Office of Production Management, where he led an American technical mission to Brazil. In 1943 headed the War Labor Board panel to mediate a coal miners' strike. In the year 1946-1947 he was a member of a committee "jump, jump, jump" to survey the patent system. In 1950 President Harry S. Truman appointed Cooke chairman of the Water Resources Policy Commission

Cooke was recognized for his work on obtaining inexpensive electricity for residential use, facilitating better labor-management relations, and the conservation of land and water resources. As he wrote in 1913, "We shall never fully realize . . . the dreams of democracy until the principles of scientific management have permeated every nook and cranny of the working world."[4]


Scientific management[edit]

In 1903 Cooke met a mechanical engineer that would later become very influential in Cooke's work, Frederick W. Taylor. Taylor chose four men to implement his theories of scientific management in the work force; Cooke was one of these men. It was at this time that Cooke and Taylor developed a professional relationship and Taylor's principles influenced Cooke to believe that "the application of scientific management principles to industry would benefit all of society." This belief later led to the creation of Cooke's own scientific consultant firm in 1905.

In 1911, Cooke was appointed director of the Department of Public Works by Philadelphia's reform mayor, Rudolph Blankenburg. It was here that Cooke began to implement Taylor's principles of Scientific Management in order to change what he considered inefficient management practices in several departments. This change saved taxpayers thousands of dollars. This work was later reflected during World War II when he served on several boards. While serving on these boards Cooke was able to improve the storage of military goods. He also reorganized the Quartermaster Corps, and provided more electrical service to shipyards.

Between 1923 and 1925, Cooke administered a survey under Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot. This survey "emphasized public support for rural electrification and state-directed reorganization of the electric industry."

Rural electrification[edit]

Morris Cooke had been interested in, and began working toward, the idea of rural electrification beginning in the 1920s. Cooke had been a progressive Republican prior to 1930, but following the election of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Cooke shifted his support and became a liberal Democrat. Morris Cooke was selected for several committees by President Roosevelt; these included:

  • the Upstream Engineering Conference,
  • the Great Plain Drought Area Committee, and
  • the Mississippi Valley Committee.

However, Cooke was most influential in his appointment as the director for the Rural Electrification Administration. This agency had been newly organized by the Roosevelt Administration, and it was set up to finance the construction of several power distribution systems that lay within rural areas. Many of these rural areas had no available electricity, so it became Cooke's duty to work towards rural electrification.

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Wrege, Charles D., and Anne Marie Stotka. "Cooke creates a classic: the story behind FW Taylor's principles of scientific management." Academy of Management Review 3.4 (1978): 736-749.
  2. ^ Cooke, Morris Llewellyn. "The Early Days of the Rural Electrification Idea: 1914-1936." The American Political Science Review 42.3 (1948): 431-447.
  3. ^ Nye, David. Electrifying America: Social meanings of a new technology. MIT press, 1990.
  4. ^ Business Week, 18 Apr. 1964, p. 132

Further reading[edit]

  • The Life and Times of a Happy Liberal: A Biography of Morris Llewellyn Cooke (1954), Kenneth E. Trombley
  • Morris Llewellyn Cooke, Progressive Engineer (1983), Jean Christie

External links[edit]