Skip to main content

Carl Cohen Papers

Identifier: UP000663

Scope and Content

The papers of Carl Cohen reflect his work with the Michigan ACLU, as well as the stance of the ACLU on various issues on both the Michigan and national levels.

Series 1: Issues, 1966-1974. Correspondence, memos, press releases, clippings, dealing with various civil liberty issues, both Michigan and national.

Series 2: Organization, 1968-1974. Correspondence, memos, agendas, minutes, notes and other materials relating to ACLU organizational matters. Subseries A: Michigan ACLU. Subseries B: National ACLU.

Series 3: Michigan ACLU Branches and Chapters, 1971-1974. Correspondence, clippings, memos dealing with Michigan ACLU branches and chapters. Organizational matters, rather than issues, are emphasized.

Series 4: Correspondence, 1969-1974. Correspondence files deal mainly with personal or non-official matters, mostly on the Michigan ACLU level.

Series 5: Various Files, 1971-1973. Items of a non-substantative and non-organizational nature, peripherally related to the ACLU.


  • 1966 - 1974
  • Majority of material found within 1971 - 1974



Collection is open for research.


Refer to the Walter P. Reuther Library Rules for Use of Archival Materials. Restrictions: Researchers may encounter records of a sensitive nature – personnel files, case records and those involving investigations, legal and other private matters. Privacy laws and restrictions imposed by the Library prohibit the use of names and other personal information which might identify an individual, except with written permission from the Director and/or the donor.


Carl Cohen was born in 1931. He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Miami in 1951. He later received an M.A. from the University of Illinois and a Ph.D. from U.C.L.A. In 1961, Cohen was a Fulbright Lecturer in Peru. Beginning in 1955, he taught courses in political and social philosophy at the University of Michigan, where he served as Professor of Philosophy, and in 1967 was a founding member of the UM Residential College. Cohen served as the chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ann Arbor, Michigan, until the spring of 1971, when he was elected chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. After 62 years of teaching at the University of Michigan, Carl Cohen retired in 2017.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was founded in 1920 by Roger Baldwin, and, as of 1976, had a staff of 330, a membership of 275,000, with 50 state affiliates. The primary purpose of the ACLU is to champion the rights of man as set forth in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: freedom of inquiry and expression, speech, press, assembly and religion for everybody; due process of law and fair trial for all; equality before the law for all, regardless of race, color, national origin, political opinion or religious belief. In pursuit of these ends, the ACLU is active in test court cases, opposition to repressive legislation and protests on every inroad of human rights. The one division of the ACLU is the American Civil Liberties Foundation, which was established as a tax deductible arm of the ACLU. Its main purposes are legal defense and research, and education on behalf of civil liberties.


5.5 Linear Feet (11 MB)

Language of Materials



Carl Cohen (born 1931) was elected chairman of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan in 1971. His papers reflect his work with the Michigan ACLU, as well as the stance of the ACLU on various issues, both local and national. The collection includes correspondence, memos, press releases and clippings dealing with many civil liberty issues, as well as organizational documents of the ACLU of Michigan.


Arranged in 5 series: Series 1 (Boxes 1-3), Series 2 (Boxes 4-8), Series 3 (Boxes 8-9), Series 4 (Boxes 9-10), Series 5 (Box 11). Folders are arranged alphabetically by topic (Series 1, 2) or branch/chapter name (Series 3) and then chronologically, unless otherwise noted.

Series 2: Organization file is further divided into two subseries. Series 4: Correspondence is arranged chronologically.


The papers of Carl Cohen were placed in the Reuther Archives of Labor History and Urban Affairs in August 1974 by Carl Cohen.


Numerous publications, pamphlets, ACLU newspapers, newsletters and annual reports that relate to many issues covered in the body of the collection. Most of these items have been placed in the Reuther Archives Library. Those of special interest include the following:

ACLU Reports: The Nixon Administration and the Press. Public Television: A Question of Survival. Corooral Punishment in Public Schools.

Pamphlets: Prayer in Public Schools. Sexual Equality. Busing. Conscientious Objectors.

Processing History

Processed and finding aid written by Walter P. Reuther Library.


Carl Cohen Papers
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Walter P. Reuther Library Repository

5401 Cass Avenue
Detroit MI 48202 USA