Lucy Kramer Cohen papers
Scope and Contents
The collection documents the life and career of Lucy Kramer Cohen, particularly her work for several federal agencies, contributions to The Handbook of Federal Indian Law, and her political and advocacy work. Professional papers primarily consist of correspondence, memoranda, reports, research notes, printed materials, and other papers relating to Kramer Cohen’s work for the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, National War Labor Board, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Department of Labor, National Science Foundation, and Public Health Service. Other professional papers include speeches and notes from Kramer Cohen’s time as a staffer and speechwriter for Helen Gahagan Douglas and memoranda and reports on Korea, Germany, and Iran from her time as an editor of the Human Relations Area Files. Other professional papers relate to Kramer Cohen’s work as a high school math teacher, research jobs, job searches, and the federal government’s loyalty investigation concerning Kramer Cohen in the 1950s.
The collection also contains writings by Kramer Cohen and her husband Felix S. Cohen, including notes and correspondence concerning the publication of The Legal Conscience, Felix S. Cohen’s correspondence concerning Puerto Rico, and correspondence concerning Lucy Kramer Cohen’s editing of her husband’s writings and management of his literary estate. Also present are correspondence, reports, clippings, and printed material concerning the Cohens’ involvement with political and social causes, including board meeting minutes and cassette tapes relating to the Association on American Indian Affairs. Material relating to Kramer Cohen’s art projects includes correspondence and notes documenting her work with Italian artist Pietro Lazzari and copies of the newsletter of the Washington Water Color Association, which she edited. Finally, personal and family papers include personal correspondence, photographs, and memorabilia concerning the Cohens, their daughters, and their extended family. Includes audiovisual recordings of Felix S. Cohen’s memorial service and legal and financial records concerning the estate of Lucy Kramer Cohen’s father Aaron Kramer.
- circa 1900-2006
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Access
Box 49, 85-92 (record album storage), Box 102 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
Immediate Source of Acquisition
52.78 Linear Feet ((122 boxes) + 7 record album storage)
Lucy Kramer Cohen (1907-2007)
Lucy Kramer Cohen was born to Aaron Kramer and Annie Frankel Kramer in Brooklyn, New York in 1907. She graduated from Barnard College in 1928 and earned her master's degree in mathematics and anthropology from Columbia University in 1929, where she studied under Franz Boas. She married Felix S. Cohen, a lawyer, in 1931, and they had two daughters, Karen and Gene. Kramer Cohen worked as an unpaid assistant with her husband in the United States Department of the Interior, helping to draft the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and The Handbook of Federal Indian Law in 1942. Kramer Cohen also worked for several other federal agencies from the 1930s until her retirement in 1989, including the Department of Agriculture, War Labor Board, Department of Labor, National Science Foundation, and the Public Health Service. Although she officially retired in 1977, she continued to work on annual contracts until 1989.
In addition to her government work, Kramer Cohen served on the staff of Representative Helen Gahagan Douglas (D-Calif.) during Douglas's three terms in the House from 1944 to 1950 and worked on Douglas’s campaign for senator in 1950. Between her government jobs, she did research work for anthropologists in Washington, including research and writing for Interior Secretary Harold Ickes. Kramer Cohen also worked for the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations and as an editor of the Human Relations Area Files.
After Felix S. Cohen's death in 1953, Kramer Cohen collected, edited, and published his work as The Legal Conscience (New Haven, Yale University Press: 1960). She also edited her husband’s writings about Puerto Rico into a book that was never published, and managed the copyright and reprint rights of his writings after his death.
Kramer Cohen and her husband were involved in many political and social causes and organizations, including Native American rights, the Socialist Party, anti-fascist organizations, and the League for Industrial Democracy. She served on the board of directors of the Association on American Indian Affairs from 1956 until 1994. In her later years, she took up painting and worked to promote the work of Italian artist and sculptor Pietro Lazzari. She died of a stroke in 2007.
This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.
- Anthropologists -- United States
- Association on American Indian Affairs
- Audiovisual materials
- Civil service -- United States
- Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953
- Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953 (Felix S. Cohen's Handbook of federal Indian law)
- Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953 (Legal conscience)
- Cohen, Lucy Kramer, 1907-2007
- Collective bargaining -- United States
- Collective labor agreements
- Cost and standard of living -- United States
- Douglas, Helen Gahagan, 1900-1980
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- Human Relations Area Files, inc
- Indians of North America -- Government relations -- 1934-
- Indians of North America -- Legal status, laws, etc.
- Lazzari, Pietro, 1898-1979
- League for Industrial Democracy
- Medical personnel -- Supply and demand -- United States
- National Science Foundation (U.S.)
- Photographs -- United States
- Public health personnel
- United States -- Politics and government -- 1933-1945
- United States. Department of Agriculture
- United States. Department of Labor
- United States. Department of the Interior
- United States. National War Labor Board (1942-1945)
- United States. Public Health Service
- Women -- United States -- Politics and government
- Women -- Washington (D.C.)
- Women anthropologists -- United States
- Women political activists -- United States
- Guide to the Lucy Kramer Cohen Papers
- Jennifer Meehan, Jonathan Harmon, and Stephanie Bredbenner
- 2010, 2020
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
- October 2014: Added June 2014 Acquisition.
- October 2020: Finding aid revised to reflect comprehensive rearrangement and reprocessing.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
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