Edward S. Cooke Jr. has published extensively on both historical and contemporary furniture. His Making Furniture in Pre-industrial America: The Social Economy of Newtown and Woodbury, Connecticut explores the artisanal world of colonial and early national America, while some of his work on modern craft has historicized and explicated more recent forms of production. This can be seen in his work as co-curator and publication author of five different exhibitions: New American Furniture (Museum of Fine Arts, 1989); Inspiring Reform: Boston's Arts and Crafts Movement (Davis Museum, Wellesley College, 1997); Wood Turning in North America Since 1930 (Yale University Art Gallery, 2001); The Maker's Hand: American Studio Furniture, 1940–1990 (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 2003); and Inspired by China: Contemporary Furnituremakers Explore Chinese Traditions (Peabody Essex Museum, 2006).
Interest in the field of modern craft has also led to an important lead essay in American Art as well as a role as one of the three founding editors of The Journal of Modern Craft. More recently, Cooke has explored the broader global context of material culture and exchange with work on India and Australia; he has also developed a unique course on global decorative arts. He is currently working on a book on the self-invention of Boston within the Atlantic world in the period of 1680 to 1720.