H89-1024. Cohen, William (1936-2020). Papers, 1972-2020. 0.25 linear ft. PARTIALLY RESTRICTED


Hope College

Document Type



Born in Los Angles, California in 1936. Received his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College, New York in 1957 and masters (1960) and doctorate degrees (1968) from Columbia University. From 1960-1962 he served in the United States Army as a personal psychology research specialist. He served as lecturer of history at Hunter College of the City University of New York from 1965-1968. He next served three years (1968-1971) as a research associate at the Center for Urban Studies, University of Chicago, where he was acting project director of a project entitled “The Urbanization of the Negro American in the Twentieth Century.” Cohen was a member of the Hope College history department faculty from 1971-2001, where he served as the chairman of the history department from 1978-1980 and 1985-1986. There he was a specialist in nineteenth century American history, with particular interests in southern history, the problems of race in American life, and American legal history and was awarded the 2001 Provost’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. In 1987, he was named a Fellow in the Institute of European Studies Faculty Seminar on “The American Constitution in British and Continental European Perspective” and studied in London, England. He published articles on Thomas Jefferson, the post-Civil War southern labor system and the race riots of 1919 and a book titled At Freedom’s Edge: Black Mobility and the Southern White Quest for Racial Control, 1861-1915 in 1991, which won the Francis Butler Simkins Award in 1993 for the best first book in the field of southern history. In 2004, he was named a Fulbright Scholar to study in Japan, where he taught at Yokohama National University and Kyoritsu Women’s University. The collection includes articles and presentations made by Cohen, biographical information, a 2019 oral history interview with Sarah Lundy, and videos of 1991 lecture about his book At Freedom’s Edge: Black Mobility and the Southern White Quest for Racial Control, 1861-1915 and undated interview about the history of the Ku Klux Klan. His personnel folder is RESTRICTED.


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