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July 1, 2022

The Story of Professor Algie Robinson Crook, the Man Who Had Never Hugged or Kissed a Woman

Algie R. Crook (or “Alja” Crook, as his name was sometimes spelled) was a professor of mineralogy at Chicago’s Northwestern University. His great claim to fame, however, had nothing to do with science. Instead, it was that in April, 1901 he allegedly told his undergraduate class that he had never kissed a woman. More specifically, he reportedly said, “I have never uttered a profane word, never have smoked or chewed tobacco, drank intoxicants, nor hugged or kissed a woman.”

Great Falls Tribune - May 15, 1901

Given that he was 37 years old at the time, this was considered a remarkable admission. So remarkable that when word of it leaked to the press it became international news. The media started referring to him as “Crook, the Unkissed.” Acquaintances of Crook readily confirmed the tale, attributing his lack of kisses to his embrace of “austere science.” One said, “the scientific atmosphere is inimical to the love germ.”

Offers of marriage flooded in, from women hoping to be the one to thaw the professor’s icy reserve.

Philadelphia Times - Apr 28, 1901

Crook, for his part, was said to be “abashed and humiliated over the gossip the affair has provoked,” and also furious at the “tattling undergraduates.” He issued a denial of the allegation, stating, “I have never told any one that I have refrained from hugging or kissing women, for the reason that I consider it nobody’s business but my own.” He recalled having advised a student to do as he did — never to kiss, hug, swear, and so forth. And he figured that’s how the story must have started. But he insisted that he hadn’t said that he had never done these things at all.

However, it was too late. The story was out there and couldn’t be taken back. His denial got buried in the back pages of newspapers, if it was printed at all. In other interviews, Crook asserted that he had kissed female family members, which didn’t help his case much since it implied that he had indeed never romantically kissed a woman. Also, a former student recalled that Crook had made similar claims before, noting, “He is a consistent Methodist, and his convictions sometimes cause him some trouble.”

Whatever the case may have been, the tale continued to haunt him. The following year (1902) a group of students at Northwestern formed an “Anti-osculation Society,” claiming that they were “following the teachings of Professor Algie R. Crook, the man who never was kissed.” They elected him an honorary member.

In 1904 Crook got married, and inevitably this triggered a renewal of the no-kissing story. “Unkissed Man To Wed,” reported the papers.

The Hutchinson News - Dec 28, 1904

Crook and his wife eventually had five children together. He died in 1930, at the age of 66.

(This original article was written by Alex Boese and published on Weird Universe)




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