Malacologist Charles Montague Cooke, Jr.

Honolulu-born malacologist (a zoologist who studies mollusks) Charles Montague Cooke, Jr. (1874–1948) was the grandson of American Protestant missionaries Amos Starr Cooke and Juliette Montague Cooke, and William Harrison Rice and Mary Sophia Hyde Rice, who resided at Koamalu, Kauai.

Cooke’s mother, philanthropist Anna Rice Cooke, was raised on Kauai and founded the Honolulu Museum of Art; his father, Charles Montague Cooke, was a founder of Bank of Hawaii.

Weighing only a frail 2 1/2 pounds at birth, there was small hope Cooke would survive, but his life was spared by the diligent efforts of Kaaaina Naihe, his Hawaiian nurse, who cared for him according to ancient Hawaiian medical practice.

In 1902, a year after earning his Ph.D. at Yale, Cooke joined the Bernice P. Bishop Museum in Honolulu as curator of its collection of Pulmonata (snails) and remained with the museum for 46 years, accumulating 2.5 to 3 million specimens of Pacific land shells over the years.

With fellow malacologist Henry Pilsbry, he co-authored Volumes 23-25 of the Manual of Conchology — still the authoritative reference on native Hawaiian snails — and with renowned anthropologist Kenneth Emory, he completed a number of scientific research expeditions in the South Pacific.

Most notably, in 1934, he led Bishop Museum’s Mangarevan Expedition to investigate the natural history of Mangareva and other far distant southeastern Polynesian islands.

Kualii, his English Tudor-style home, built in 1911 of stone quarried on its Manoa Valley, Oahu, site by prominent Honolulu architects Walter Emory and Marshall Webb, and still a private residence, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

An enthusiastic horticulturist, he bred new varieties of hibiscus and raised amaryllis, iris and anthuriums in his beautifully landscaped gardens at Kualii.

Charles Montague Cooke, Jr. and his wife, Eliza Lefferts Cooke, had two children: Carolene Alexander Cooke and Charles Montague Cooke III.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.