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Cook Family Papers

Collection ID: MG 46

Scope and Contents

The collection includes material documenting the lives of the children of Arthur Clarico and Emma Blow Freeman, and later generations. Most of the collection centers on the personal and business papers of Allen Merriam Cook. The collection documents a Norfolk family, the development of subdivisions in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and the career of a Naval officer.


  • 1872-1977, undated
  • Other: Date acquired: 05/12/1980



10.00 Linear Feet

Conditions Governing Access

Open to researchers without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from Special Collections and University Archives, and the holder of the copyright, if not Old Dominion University Libraries.

Biographical or Historical Information

The family of Henry Clarico Freeman Cook, the donor of the Cook Family Papers, dates to several distinguished Virginians. The family traces its ancestry to Richard Blow, a dominant figure in the business life of eighteenth and nineteenth century Virginia. The papers of Richard Blow are with the Blow Family Papers in the manuscripts collection of the Library of the College of William and Mary. Richard Blow's grandson, George Blow Jr., was a Norfolk judge and a member of the state convention for Virginia's secession at the time of the Civil war. Judge George Blow and his wife, Elizabeth Taylor Allmand, settled on Boush Street in Norfolk, where their daughter, Emma, grew up. Blow Street in Norfolk is named after this family. Emma Blow married Arthur Clarico Freeman and they had three children, Arthur II, Elizabeth Allmond ("Lizzie"), and Emma. It is this generation and their descendants which the Cook Family Papers detail. Arthur II was born in 1878 and graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1897. His interest in engineering led him to several inventions, some of which he attempted to sell to the government during World Wars I and II. He married a woman named Elsa, of whom his family disapproved, forcing Arthur to leave Norfolk and settle in Pennsylvania. In 1924, Elsa died and Arthur returned to Norfolk with his four children. In the 1950's, Arthur carried on much correspondence with Katherine Groner Shropshire who resided in New York and later in St. Augustine, Florida. Her letters to Arthur are quite revealing; unfortunately the collection contains few letters from Arthur to Katherine. Of Arthur's children, the collection reveals information only about his daughter, Elfrieda Blow Freeman ("Elf"). Elfrieda married Merton B. Tice and settled in Mitchell, South Dakota. Tice was active in state politics and Elfrieda became National President of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1963. They had three children, Charles, Baird, and Virginia. The collection reveals little information about Elizabeth Allmond Freeman ("Lizzie"). Lizzie founded the Edgewater Garden Club and lived in the family home in the Edgewater subdivision of Norfolk with her sister, Emma, until her death. Emma Blow Freeman married Allen Merriam Cook and they initially settled in the family home on Boush Street. They had three children; Allen Blow, and twins, Henry Clarico Freeman ("Freeman") and Clarice. The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of Allen M. Cook. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1893 and served in the Navy until 1919, retiring with the rank of commander. Allen M. Cook's Naval career took him to assignments throughout the United States, while his wife remained in Norfolk. Emma Freeman Cook was active in the Edgewater Garden Club and the Great Bridge Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Upon his retirement, Commander Cook carried on a large real estate business in Norfolk. When he died in 1941, his widow continued to live at the family's home in Edgewater until her death in 1956. Allen Blow Cook was born in 1899 and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1921. A physical disability caused him to retire in 1926. He received his masters degree in 1929 from the University of Virginia and joined the faculty at the Naval Academy. In 1942, he was recalled to active duty and retired in 1947 with the rank of commander. Upon retirement he returned to the Naval Academy faculty. He died in 1971. The twins, Henry Clarico Freeman ("Freeman") and Clarice, were born in 1909. The collection contains little information of Clarice, other than a few references in the family's correspondence. She married Arthur Gardner and settled in New York. At the time this biography was written, Freeman Cook, the donor of the collection, was living in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Though he received a scholarship to Virginia Polytechnic Institute, his family wished him to attend the University of Virginia, where he would be a "gentleman." He did attend UVA and studied agriculture. He later traveled and worked throughout the U.S. and in Panama, where he met his wife, Pepita. Freeman enlisted in the Navy, though the collection only reveals that in 1944 he was a Chief Petty Officer stationed in Norfolk. The Cook Family is perhaps most notable for their residence, The Tazewell House, in the Edgewater subdivision of Norfolk. Once the home of Littleton Waller Tazewell, a U.S. Senator and Governor of Virginia in the nineteenth century, the mansion was originally located at Granby and Boush Streets in Norfolk. When the mansion- was threatened in the early twentieth century, Emma Blow Freeman (Mrs. Arthur Clarico Freeman) purchased the house, and had it dismantled and reassembled on a site facing the Elizabeth River in Edgewater. According to a newsclipping in the collection, even the trees on the original site were uprooted and replanted at the new location. The Cook Family lived in the home at least until 1960's. Today, the privately owned Tazewell House is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Note written by Special Collections Staff

Language of Materials



Bulk of collection consists of the papers of Allen M. Cook and documents the development of subdivisions in Norfolk and Virginia Beach, and the career of a naval officer from 1899 to 1919. Includes business papers, financial documents, diaries, correspondence, scrapbooks, and newspaper clippings. Of note are the minutes and proceedings of the Princess Anne and Norfolk Mutual Building and Loan Association.

Arrangement Note

The collection is organized into twelve series: Series I: Correspondence; Series II: Minutes and Proceedings; Series III: Diaries; Series IV: Printed Material; Series V: Financial Documents; Series VI: Photographic Material; Series VII: Literary Productions; Series VIII: Legal Documents; Series IX: Scrapbooks and Scrapbook Material; Series X: Artifacts; Series XI: Charts, Diagrams, Lists, Real Estate Plats, and Maps; and Series XII: Genealogy.

Physical Access Requirements

Portions of the material are extremely fragile. Consult a staff member for assistance.

Source of Acquisition

H.C. Freeman Cook

Method of Acquisition

Gift. Accession #A80-24

Processing Information

The collection was rehoused into acid-free folders and boxes by Javonte Baker, Special Collections and University Archives Assistant, from February through April 2018.

A Guide to the Cook Family Papers
Jay Gaidmore
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2018-04-25: The container list was updated by Javonte Baker, Special Collections and University Archives Assistant, from February through April 2018.

Repository Details

Part of the ODU Community Collections Repository

3000 Perry Library
4427 Hampton Blvd.
Norfolk VA 23529 US