Giving It All Away: The Story of William W. Cook and His Michigan Law Quadrangle

Front Cover
University of Michigan Press, Aug 30, 2011 - Education - 281 pages

“Margaret Leary's carefully researched book illuminates a complex man who marked his university in a truly enduring way."
---Francis X. Blouin Jr., Director, Bentley Historical Library, and Professor, School of Information and Department of History, University of Michigan

“Generations of Michigan Law grads have passed on myths about their generous but eccentric benefactor. . . . Now Margaret Leary has given us the real story, and it reads like a gripping whodunit."
---Theodore J. St. Antoine, James E. and Sarah A. Degan Professor Emeritus of Law and Past Dean, University of Michigan Law School

“In an absorbing book, Margaret Leary unstintingly investigates unpublished, archival material to unravel enigmas surrounding William Wilson Cook. She brings to life Cook's brilliant interactions with powerful moguls of the early twentieth century as she traces his lofty, philanthropic mission to elevate the legal profession."
---Ilene H. Forsyth, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of the History of Art, emerita, University of Michigan

William W. Cook, born in 1858 and a graduate of the University of Michigan and of its law school, made his fortune by investing in the burgeoning telegraph and communications industry, as well as in representing the Mackay Company in their frequent tumultuous battles with Western Union and the U.S. government. Though Cook entered New York society and never returned to Michigan after receiving his law degree, he decided not just to give his alma mater the finest physical facility of any existing law school, but to donate permanent resources that would permit the law school to engage in groundbreaking legal research. However, his generosity proved controversial and eventually very litigious. Margaret A. Leary places Cook's story in the rich social and cultural context of his time and paints a fascinating portrait of a complex figure whose legacy continues to shape the University of Michigan.

Cover photographs: (left) Gregory Fox Photography; (right) Ann B. Cook collection, photo by Russell R. Serbay



185882 Hillsdale childhood student days in Ann Arbor
188298 The ambitious young New York lawyer the brilliant writer on corporate law the wooer and husband of Ida Olmstead the indispensable empl...
18981910 Divorcing Ida thriving at the Mackay Companies losing a boss and mentor becoming a man of property establishing enduring friendships...
191019 Rapport with President Hutchins less rapport with Dean Bates meeting Myrtle White making Michigan commitments honoring a revered mo...
John T Creighton Trustee or toad?
192027 A bad diagnosis researching a new book the opening of the Lawyers Club Dean Batess endless missteps the final break with Blooming Grov...
192830 Agonizing over the fate of Port Chester President Littles appalling lapse an exasperated Regent Murfin picks up his pen Cook takes comman...
193135 A whole lot of litigation Trustee Creighton obfuscates and delays Regent Murfin continues as hero Myrtle White miraculously reappears Ida...
The Fate of Everyone Else
A Discussion of American Institutions and Their Preservation
William Cooks Legacy to the Profession of Law
A Description of William Cooks Manhattan Town House

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2011)

Margaret A. Leary is Director of the University of Michigan Law Library.

Bibliographic information