The Arthur A. Cohen Papers provide evidence of the writing, editing, and publishing career of Arthur Allen Cohen between 1940 and 1986. The Papers consist of correspondence, writings, personal papers, photographs, audiovisual material, legal and financial documents, and clippings relating to Cohen's writing, publishing companies Noonday Press and Meridian Books, and work editing the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series for Viking Press. Cohen's interest in theology (particularly Judaism) and art are also reflected in the Papers. Cohen's Papers provide insight into theology, the art world, and publishing during the mid-twentieth century.
The progression of Cohen's creative process from idea to publication is documented in correspondence, drafts, and printed material pertaining to his books. For example, the Papers include drafts, galleys, publicity, reviews, and other material tracing Cohen's novel In the Days of Simon Stern. Correspondence with publishers, such as Random House and Ardis Publishing House, also pertain to Cohen's writing career. Cohen's interest in religion is reflected in several of his writing projects as well as correspondence with theologians such as Thomas J. J. Altizer, Jacob Neusner, and Jacob Taubes.
Cohen's literary circle included a number of authors, such as Yoram Kaniuk, Jerzy Kosinski, Jacques Maritain, David McKain, Ron Padgett, Ruthven Todd, and Elie Wiesel, some of whose works he edited and published. In addition, Cohen's correspondence with artist Robert Motherwell reflects their friendship and work editing Viking Press's Documents of Twentieth Century Art series (Motherwell served as the general editor whereas Cohen worked as the managing editor). As the Papers illustrate, Cohen also wrote the foreword to a book by and about Motherwell, printed as part of the series.
Correspondence and papers concerning Meridian Books, Noonday Press, and the Documents of Twentieth Century Art series relate to Cohen's publishing career. Also of interest is Cohen's correspondence with Morris Philipson, a student with Cohen at the University of Chicago, who went on to be the director of the University of Chicago Press.
Cohen's correspondence with friends, family (largely his parents Isidore Meyer and Bess Junger Cohen), photographs, and journals also provide insight into his personal life.