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William S. Cohen was born on August 28, 1940 in Bangor, Maine. His father Reuben, a baker, was a Russian-Jewish immigrant and his mother, Clara, is of Irish-Protestant extraction. Cohen graduated from Bangor High School in 1958, and from Bowdoin College with an A.B. cum laude in Latin in 1962. An accomplished athlete, he was named to the Maine all-state high school and college basketball teams, and, while at Bowdoin, he was inducted into the New England All-Star Hall of Fame. In 1965, he received his LL.B cum laude from Boston University Law School and, during that same year, he became the assistant editor-in-chief of the American Trial Lawyers Association and a partner in a Bangor law firm. Cohen was the Assistant County Attorney for Penobscot County from 1968 to 1970. In 1968, he was an instructor at Husson College in Bangor. He held an appointment as an instructor in business administration at the University of Maine from 1968 to 1972. Cohen was the vice president of the Maine Trial Lawyers Association from 1970 to 1972, and a member of the Bangor School Board from 1971 to 1972. He was a fellow at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics at Harvard University in 1972, and was named one of the U.S. Jaycee's ten outstanding young men in 1975.

The William S. Cohen congressional papers consist of the records created by Cohen and his staff in the course of Cohen's duties as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1978 and as a U.S. Senator from 1979 to 1997. They include correspondence, memos, reports, press releases, appointment calendars, speeches, voting records, photographs, videos, and memorabilia. These files document Cohen's legislative and committee-related work, the attention and services he offered to his constituents, his public relations and press activities, and the administrative activities of his office in Washington D.C. and in the six state offices in Maine. The Department of Defense documents, primarily in electronic format, include trip reports, public statements, correspondence, photographs, and videotapes from 1997-2001. Cohen's private papers, the bulk of which consist of the manuscripts for the nine books he has written, are also included.

Publication Date



Government and Law


Political History | United States History

Size of Collection

1500 linear feet

Dates of Collection

1955-2001, bulk 1972-2001

Manuscript Number

SpC MS 0106

Cohen (William S.) Papers, 1955-2001