Skip Navigation

The Cohen Papers

MS106_Cohen_Box3_Photos in the Office_005

“When I returned from the Senate, I decided that my papers, more than 1500 boxes worth, would come to the University of Maine because I believe that the product of a public career should go to a public institution” (William S. Cohen, 1998 Cohen Lecture).

The William S. Cohen papers (Cohen papers) were donated to the University of Maine by William S. Cohen in 1996. The Cohen papers were created by Cohen and his staff during his time in Washington, as a member of the House of Representatives (1973 – 1979) and later in the United States Senate (1979 – 1997). The papers include correspondence, memos, reports, press releases, appointment calendars, speeches, voting records, photographs, and videos. These files document Cohen’s legislative and committee-related work on a variety of issues, the attention and services he offered to his constituents back in Maine, his public relations and press activities, and the administrative activities of his office in Washington D.C. and the six offices in Maine. The papers do not solely focus on his time in Washington D.C., they also document Cohen’s career from his decision to run for Congress in 1972 through to the announcement of his retirement from the Senate in 1996.

In 2001 after serving as Secretary of Defense for four years, under democratic President Bill Clinton, Cohen donated the reference files from his office at the Department of Defense (DOD) in the Pentagon. These files contain as host of unclassified material, including files, trip reports, photographs, and news clippings. Unlike the materials from his time in Congress, the DOD files are in electronic format and consist of 16 CD-ROM disks.

The collection is organized into six major record groups:

  1. Private papers
  2. Papers from the U.S. House of Representatives
  3. Papers from the U.S. Senate
  4. Audio-visual materials
  5. Photographs and memorabilia
  6. Department of Defense papers

For a detailed overview of the Cohen papers, click here.

The papers are available to students, faculty and staff of the University of Maine. Members of the public are also encouraged to access the collection. The Cohen papers are a fantastic resource for researchers in a variety of fields. The papers represent a fantastic opportunity for researchers in a variety of fields, including political science, international affairs, public policy, and history. They extensively document two of the most infamous constitutional crisis’s in American history, “Watergate” and “Iran-Contra”, both of which Cohen played an integral role in solving.

If you have any questions or are looking for advice regarding using the Cohen papers as part of you research project please feel free to contact the Cohen Center’s Research Associate, Darren Reid. He is currently conducting his own research using the Cohen papers and would be happy to give you any advice he can, or put you in contact with someone that may be able to assist you further.

The William S. Cohen papers are housed in the Special Collection Department of the University of Maine’s Raymond H. Fogler Library. Assess to some of the papers is restricted. Please contact the Special Collections Department for further information.