Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Ida Ione Cook, 1851-1924
By Dr. Jenel Cope, Faculty of History and Political Science, Grays Harbor College.
Educator, superintendent, and college principal.
Ida Ione Cook was born April 21, 1851 in New York state to William J. Cook, a doctor, and Sophia King Cook. She was the youngest of five children. She had three older sisters, Mary who had been born in 1835; Anna who had been born in 1837; and Cornelia who had been born in 1842. She also had an older brother Charles Addison who had been born in 1833. Her brother Charles became a banker in Colorado and was the first elected mayor of Denver where he served for two terms beginning in 1861. Her father William passed away in 1862.
Ida and her sister Mary graduated from the State Normal School in Albany and sometime after their graduation relocated to Missouri. By 1868, Ida was serving as an assistant to Mary, who was the principal of the Benton School in St. Louis, Missouri. The school had 8 teachers and 459 students between the ages of 7 and 17.
Between 1868 and 1870 Ida and Mary, and probably the rest of the female members of the family, moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1870 both Ida and Mary were teachers at a schoolhouse founded by Brigham Young. In 1871 Ida and Mary were baptized as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. In 1871 they were also appointed by university chancellor David H. Wells to work at the University of Deseret (later the University of Utah) to teach both school and college level classes. In this role, Ida spent time working with her sister at the Social Hall school in which younger students were taught and new teachers were trained. Newspaper reports as well as accounts from individual students indicated that she was a compelling and thorough teacher.
Wanting to establish her independence, she opened a high school in Logan, Utah in 1875 and in 1877 she became the first female school superintendent in Utah. She became superintendent of the Cache County school district, though she may not have officially held the title until later due to laws that prevented women from holding such high positions at the time. A month before Brigham Young's death in 1877 he set up a new college in Logan named Brigham Young College and Ida was named in the deed of trust. She served as the first principal of the College when it opened in September 1878 and continued in that position until 1884. Her mother passed away in Salt Lake City in 1890.
In 1892 Ida was elected as the general coordinator of the Logan schools, including creating reforms to professionalize teaching including rules and examination standards for teacher certification. She only served in the position for one year. Historical evidence suggests that she returned to live in Salt Lake City upon leaving the position, and that she died in Los Angeles, California in 1924.
"Biennial Report of the Territorial Superintendent of District Schools for the Years Ending 1882-1883." T.E. Taylor Printer, 1884.
Bruce, Dwight H. (Ed.), Onondaga's Centennial. Boston History Co., 1896, Vol. II, Biographical, pp. 144-147.
Clark, Mary R., and Patricia Lyn Scott. "From Schoolmarm to State Superintendent: The Changing Role of Women in Education, 1847-2004." Women In Utah History: Paradigm Or Paradox? Edited by Scott Patricia Lyn, Thatcher Linda, and Whetstone Susan Allred, 223-48. University Press of Colorado, 2005.
"Fourteenth Annual Report of the Board of Directors of the St. Louis Public Schools," George Knapp and Company, St. Louis, Missouri, 1869.
Mulvay, Jill. "The Two Miss Cooks: Pioneer Professionals for Utah Schools," Utah Historical Quarterly, volume 43, number 4, Fall 1975, 396-409.