Cohen, Wilbur J. (Wilbur Joseph), 1913-1987

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1913-06-10
Death 1987-05-17
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Wilbur J. Cohen was Director of the Research and Statistics Bureau of the Wisconsin Health, Education and Welfare Department and the author of several texts on Social Security.

From the guide to the Wilbur J. Cohen, Papers, 1937-1942, (Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.)

Government official.

From the description of Reminiscences of Wilbur Joseph Cohen : oral history, 1976. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122574235

From the description of Reminiscences of Wilbur Joseph Cohen : oral history, 1966. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 122597619

From the description of Reminiscences of Wilbur Joseph Cohen : oral history, 1974. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 309730147

Wilbur J. Cohen was director of the Research and Statistics Bureau of the Wisconsin Health, Education, and Welfare Department, and technical advisor of the U.S. Advisory Council on Social Security. The Advisory Council was appointed by the Senate Finance Committee in cooperation with the U.S. Social Security Board and was composed of representatives of the public, employers, and employees. The purpose of the Advisory Council was to cooperate with a special subcommittee of the Committee on Finance (Senators Pat Harrison, Harry Flood Byrd, Arthur J. Vandenberg) and the Social Security Board in the study of problems relative to social security, with special attention to the problem of financing an old age insurance system.

From the description of Social security files, 1932-1957. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122685295

Mr. Cohen became assistant secretary for legislation of Health, Education, and Welfare during the administration of President John F. Kennedy, and was in charge of the evaluation and management of all legislation affecting HEW.

From the description of Wilbur J. Cohen : transcript of interview / interviewed by Richard E. McFadyen, Sept. 29, 1973. (National Library of Medicine). WorldCat record id: 61459382

Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan.

From the description of Wilbur J. Cohen papers, 1967-1987. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 78730540

From the description of Wilbur Joseph papers, 1967-1987. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34423535

Wilbur J. Cohen (1913-1987) served on the Committee on Economic Security from 1934 to 1935, which drafted the Social Security Act. From 1935 to 1956, Cohen held several positions with the Social Security Administration, concluding his service as Director of the Division of Research and Statistics (1953-1956). From 1961 to 1969, he served as Assistant Secretary , Under Secretary, and Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. He was also the Chairman of the National Commission on Unemployment Compensation from 1978 to 1980.

From the description of Cohen, Wilbur J. (Wilbur Joseph), 1913-1987 (U.S. National Archives and Records Administration). naId: 10582753

Government official.

Cohen served with the Social Security Administration, 1935-1956, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, 1961-1969, and the National Commission on Unemployment Compensation, 1978-1980.

From the description of Papers, 1941-1980. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155522020

Wilbur Cohen was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1913. Following his graduation in 1934 from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in economics, he went to Washington to work for Edwin E Witte, who was then directing President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Committee on Economic Security, which was responsible for drafting the first Social Security Act. Cohen joined the newly-formed Social Security Board in 1935 and stayed in the government for two decades, ending in 1956 when he retired as director of the Board's Division of Research and Statistics. That year, he joined the University of Michigan as a professor of public welfare administration, a position he held until 1961.

After the election of President John F. Kennedy, Cohen returned to Washington, taking the position of assistant secretary for legislation in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. In 1965, he was elevated to the position of undersecretary in the department, and in 1968 was appointed to be secretary of HEW by President Lyndon Johnson.

In 1969, he returned to the University of Michigan, taking the post of dean in the School of Education. During his deanship at the University of Michigan, Cohen was appointed to chair the Task Force on the Prevention and Investigation of Abuse in State Institutions by Governor William G. Milliken. Cohen accepted the charge in early March 1978, and proceeded to direct the members of the Task Force through the investigations of abuse to institutionalized citizens in the mental health facilities of Southeastern Michigan. It may be presumed that it was Cohen's direction which split the focus of the Task Force from the purely investigative to include research into the means of preventing future abuse. The Task Force reports are clear in their statements indicating that it is not enough for the State of Michigan to act as watchdog, there is also a need to ensure, through appropriate social programs, training, and compensation, the well-being of all Michigan residents.

Cohen retired as dean in 1978, and in 1980 he moved to Austin, Texas to take the position of Sid W. Richardson Professor of Public Affairs at the Lyndon Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. During his career, Cohen wrote a number of books on the Social Security system and welfare policy. He served in a number of non-profit organizations, including forming and leading Save our Security, a coalition of groups opposed to the cuts in Social Security benefits proposed by President Jimmy Carter's administration. He maintained his interest in social policy and related issues up to his death on May 18, 1987 at the age of seventy three.

From the guide to the Wilbur J. Cohen papers, 1967-1987, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)

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Subjects:

  • Government executives--Interviews
  • Inflation (Finance)
  • Social security--Costs
  • Legislation, Drug--Interview
  • Legislation, Food--Autobiography
  • Insurance, Unemployment
  • Education--Michigan
  • Guaranteed annual income
  • Unemployment insurance
  • Old age pensions
  • Medicare
  • People with disabilities--Services for--Finance
  • Unemployment--Statistics
  • Federal aid to child welfare
  • Social security--Law and legislation
  • Disability insurance
  • Insurance, Unemployment--Governement policy
  • Disability evaluation
  • Segregation in education--Michigan--Detroit
  • Unemployment insurance--Governement policy
  • Old age assistance
  • Segregation in education--Michigan--Kalamazoo
  • Legislation, Food--Interview
  • Pensions--Finance
  • Segregation in education
  • Social problems
  • Legislation, Drug--Autobiography
  • Pensions
  • Economic security
  • Education
  • Social security
  • Federal aid to services for people with disabilities

Occupations:

  • Public officers
  • Collector

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Detroit (as recorded)
  • Michigan--Kalamazoo (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Michigan (as recorded)