Faith Beamer Cooke Collection
Washington State University
Poet Faith Elinor Beamer Cooke (1910-2001) was a native of Oregon. She graduated from Vancouver (WA) High School and continued her education throughout her life, taking classes at Cheney (WA) Normal School, Oregon State University, the University of Washington, and the University of Idaho. In the early years of their marriage, during the Great Depression, she and her husband Phil Cooke lived in mining camps, then moved to Salt Lake City briefly for Phil Cooke's work as a chemical engineer with the Remington Arms Company. With the economic revival associated with World War II they returned to Washington, arriving at Hanford in October of 1943.
Everywhere she lived, Cooke was an active member of the local community, with a special interest in developing cultural programs. By 1945, she had founded the Writer's Workshop (later Mid-Columbia Writers League and the Mid-Columbia Writers Association) and a Unitarian Fellowship. She participated in school activities, adult education, and Girl Scouts. She continued throughout her life to develop her skills as a poet by participating in writer's organizations and seminars throughout the Pacific Northwest and often around the world.
As the Tri-Cities grew Cooke expanded her efforts to develop regional and statewide poetry and community organizations. She was a key participant in the Benton-Franklin County Fair, the creation of the Columbia Arts Center, the Washington Poets Association, the 1976 USA Bicentennial Project, the Washington State Centennial Project, and other similar events. The Washington Poets Association established a poetry award as a memorial to Cooke, their founder, in 1999.
Every year she sent her family and friends an original poem for Christmas and other religious holidays. Like most of her poetry, these related to events in her life and environment, and they often revealed her Christian world view. After Phil Cooke's death in 1994, she remained active in several community programs. She moved to Vancouver in 1999, where she lived until her death in 2001.
Significance of the collection:
Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections established this digital collection in 2009 with materials selected from the Faith Beamer Cooke papers. These selections consist of Cooke’s poetry, correspondence, photographs, newspaper articles, and her personal research, illustrating her life, work, and efforts as a poet, intellectual, and advocate of the liberal arts in Richland, Washington. The collection includes Cooke’s published and unpublished poetry spanning over seven decades, 1934-1998, and other evidence of her contribution to poetry, culture, and the arts in the Pacific Northwest. The collection is intended to illuminate a little known aspect of women’s history and identity in Cold War America.