Photographs of A.J. Cook and family, undated (c1885 and c1910); postcards and letter sent by A.J. Cook to his family, 1930 and undated (c1926-1930); admission card to the funeral service of A.J. Cook 1931.
Papers of A.J. Cook
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Arthur James Cook was born in 1884 at Wookey, Somerset. He attended elementary school and then worked as a farm labourer and a baptist preacher. Arthur later moved to the Rhondda and worked in Lewis Merthyr Colliery. He began to develop socialist views, joining the Independant Labour Party and also become involved with trade-union work. He was elected official of the Lewis Merthyr lodge of the South Wales Miners' Federation (SWMF) and was a member of the executive committee of the union and between 1906 and 1918 he was to hold at different times the positions of lodge chairman, secretary and treasurer. He was also elected a member of the Rhondda Urban District Council. Cook worked alongside others in the Unofficial Reform Committee and in 1913 resigned from the Labour Party because of his involvement with the committee. In 1919 he was a member of the South Wales Socialist Society and was a foundation member of the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1920. However, he resigned from the Communist Party in 1921, the reasons for which are unclear.
In 1911 Arthur Cook was awarded a scholarship to attend the Central Labour College in London. However, due to financial difficulties he was forced to return to the pits and did not complete the second year of the course. He later taught classes in economics and trade union history. In 1919 he was elected a miners' agent and in 1921 became a member of the Executive Committee of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB). In 1924 he became the MFGB's national secretary, holding the post until his death. He was very active during the 1926 general strike and the miners' strike which followed.
Arthur James Cook died in 1931.
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