Skip to main content

Celestine Strode Cook papers

Identifier: 100


This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services award MH-245560-OMS-20.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Celestine Cook primarily document her business, social, and civic activities in both Galveston, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Personal materials include correspondence, awards, family Bibles, programs, invitations, and newspaper clippings. This collection also contains organizational records and ephemera.

Organizational records reflect her involvement in businesses, art institutions, educational institutions, and event committees, including the Urban League Gala. Notable items include publications such as I’ve Known Rivers, Inc. News and Liberty Bank News Lites, reflecting Cook’s participation with the committee that sponsored the Afro-American Pavilion at the Louisiana World Exposition and her business ties with the Liberty Bank, respectively. Other notable records include 1982 correspondence and financial records from the Women’s Committee for the Re-Election of Mayor (Ernest N. “Dutch”) Morial).

Also included are materials such as correspondence, publications, and ephemera that reflect Cook’s attendance at Tuskegee Institute and her membership in the United Methodist Church, Zeta Phi Beta sorority, and the New Orleans Chapter of the Links, Incorporated. This collection also contains an extensive number of photographs that document social and political events in New Orleans, and personal and family photographs.


  • Other: 1932-1985, undated


Conditions Governing Access

The Celestine Cook papers are open and available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright to these papers has not been assigned to the Amistad Research Center. It is the responsibility of an author to secure permission for publication from the holder of the copyright to any material contained in this collection.

Biographical Note

Celestine Strode Cook (1924-1985), business woman, community and political activist.

Celestine Strode Cook, née Celestine Arcelona Shannon, was born in 1924 in Teague, Texas. Her father was a machinist for the Rock Island Railroad and her mother was a housewife. The family moved to Houston, Texas for better schools and to plan for higher education. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in physical education from the Tuskegee Institute in 1944 and taught in Houston (TX) Public Schools before her marriage to Bethel J. Strode. They had two children together: a son, Bethel Strode Jr., and a daughter, Bethelynn Strode. The family lived in Galveston, Texas. Following her husband’s death in 1947, she assumed leadership of her late husband’s estate consisting of properties and investments in Texas and Illinois. Cook served as a member of the City of Galveston Recreation and Park Board from 1949 to 1953. In this role, she assisted in the development of Galveston County Colored Park at LaMarque. In 1953, she served as chair of the United Negro College Fund Campaign. In 1955, she was appointed to a community wide biracial committee created to discuss the issues of desegregation in Galveston and submit recommendations.

She married Good Citizens Life Insurance company executive Jesse W. Cook in 1955 and moved to New Orleans. Cook was a businesswoman in New Orleans and became the executive secretary of Good Citizens Life Insurance Company and Good Citizens Funeral Systems, Inc. She also served on many different boards of civic organizations and in committees. She served as a trustee for Loyola University, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Amistad Research Center. She was also on the executive board of the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. As in Galveston, Cook was politically active. She served on campaigns such as the Women’s Committee for the Re-Election of “Dutch” Morial, the School Board Re-Election campaign of Rose Loving, Dorothy Mae Taylor’s campaign for New Orleans City Council, the campaign of Congresswoman Lindy Boggs, and the Judge Israel Augustine Campaign for Criminal District Court.

She was also highly involved in arts organizations and frequently helped develop and coordinate programs and exhibitions in addition to donating her time and money. She was a member of the Friends of the Free Southern Theater of New Orleans, and served on the boards of the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Business Arts Council.

She was a member of the Zeta Phi Beta sorority and a member of the New Orleans Chapter of the Links, where she served as president from 1968 to 1974. She was also an active member of the New Orleans Chapter of the Tuskegee Alumni Association and a Life Member of the YWCA. She was the recipient of many awards and honors, including the Tuskegee Institute Alumni Merit Award in 1955 and Zeta Phi Beta’s Woman of the Year in 1955.


16.18 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Related Materials

The Celestine Cook papers are closely related to the Sybil Morial papers, the Ernest N. "Dutch" Morial papers, the Dorothy Mae Taylor papers, the New Orleans Chapter of the LINKS, Inc. records, and the Dent Family papers.

Condition Description


Celestine Strode Cook papers
Jasmaine Talley
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Amistad Research Center Repository

6823 Saint Charles Avenue
Tilton Hall, Tulane University
New Orleans LA 70118 US
(504) 862-3222