Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Dr. Eliza Cook, 1856-1947
Written by Cherry Jones; Condensed by Kay Sanders, Both for the Nevada Women's History Project
Vice-President Nevada Women's Equal Suffrage League, 1895; President Douglas County Equal Suffrage League
Eliza Cook was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and came to Sheridan, in Carson Valley, Nevada, with her mother and sister in 1870 when she was 14 years old.
Self-education, she was admitted to Cooper Medical College in San Francisco. After receiving her degree in 1884 she returned to practice in Carson Valley, where she lived and had her office in the home of her sister, Rebecca, and brother-in-law, Hugh Park. In 1890-91 she completed graduate studies in Philadelphia and New York, and then continued her medical work in Carson Valley.
Dr. Cook was a strong advocate for women's rights. In 1894, she wrote a letter, printed in both the Genoa Courier and Reno Evening Gazette, stating 11 reasons why women should have equal voting rights with men. In October 1895, she was elected a vice-president of the Nevada Women's Equal Suffrage League at the meeting held at McKissick's Opera House in Reno. At the end of her term she became president of the first Douglas County Equal Suffrage League.
Dr. Cook was also an avid supporter of temperance. She was a member of both The Good Templars and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. She attended the WCTU convention in Carson City in 1892, and then served that organization as state president from 1896 to 1901.
Dr. Cook was the first woman doctor in Nevada to receive her Nevada medical license, in April 1899. This was the first year the state began issuing medical licenses. Three other women with medical degrees practiced before her. They all left the state after only a few years. Dr. Cook was the first to have made a lifelong commitment to the community she served. She died in her sleep on October 2, 1947, at the age of 91.
Mary Henningsen. Article, Nevada State Journal, June 9, 1946
Reno Evening Gazette. Article, October 31, 1895
Genoa Courier. Article, December 21, 1894
The Carson Valley Connection. "The Saga of Nevada Women's Suffrage," script from "Historic Dramatic Presentation," April 26, 1996.
Cooper Medical College. Annual announcement, session of 1884
Luette Dressler Bergevin. Eliza Cook's great-niece. Several personal interviews with author, 2001.
Janice Hansen. Eliza Cook's great-great-niece. Several interviews with author, 1998
Cherry Jones. "Dr. Eliza Cook." A Biography on the Nevada Women's History Project website. http://www.nevadawomen.org/research-center/biographies-alphabetical/dr-eliza-cook/
Dr. Eliza Cook
Uncredited photo from NWHP website.