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December 20, 2010
Passing of a Giant: Morris L. Cohen, 1927-2010
Morris Cohen, one of the most influential law librarians of the 20th century, died Saturday. His funeral will be held today. Former AALL President (1970-71), Cohen was Professor Emeritus of Law and Professorial Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School since 1991. He served as Professor of Law and Director of Yale Law School's Lillian Goldman Law Library from 1981 to 1991, after having served from 1971 to 1981 as the Librarian of the Harvard Law School Library. Cohen also served as director of the law libraries at the University of Pennsylvania (1963-1971) and SUNY-Buffalo (1961-1963).
"One of the great law librarians and book collectors of the twentieth century" (quoting Mike Widener, Rare Book Librarian, Yale Law Library), Cohen began purchasing rare books for SUNY-Buffalo's collection in 1962. That collection is now known as the Morris L. Cohen Rare Book Collection. In 2008, Cohen donated some 200 law-related children's books to Yale Law Library; it must be the largest collection of its kind. For what became a shared hobby, Cohen and his son started accumulating the books around 1960. Here's the link to the bib record for the Juvenile Jurisprudence Collection from Yale Law Library's online catalog, a/k/a MORRIS. In 2009, Harvard Law School established the Morris L. Cohen Fellowship in American Legal Bibliography and History in his honor.
One of the country’s leading authorities in legal research and bibliography, Cohen's published works that include the most complete record to date of the monographic and trial literature of American law published in this country or abroad, from its beginnings to the end of 1860, the Bibliography of Early American Law (1998, Supplement, 2003), A Guide to the Early Reports of the Supreme Court of the United States (1995, with Sharon Hamby O'Connor), How to Find the Law, (8th and 9th editions, with Robert C. Berring, 1983 and 1989), and Legal Research in a Nutshell (1st edition, 1968, to 10th edition, 2010, 5th to 10th editions with Kent C. Olson).
Morris Cohen's contributions to our profession by his scholarship and professional association activities, the leadership he provided at two of our nation's great law schools, and the support and encouragement he offered so many young law librarians will be his enduring legacy to law librarianship.
Donations in Morris Cohen's memory can be made to Congregation Beth El Keser Israel, American Jewish World Service, or the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. [JH]