Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953

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Felix Solomon Cohen (1907-1953), lawyer; assistant and associate solictor, Department of Interior; professor of jurisprudence at Yale and The City College of New York; scholar on law, ethics and philosophy, and civil rights of Native Americans and other minorities.

From the description of Felix S. Cohen papers addition, 1927-1960 (bulk 1931-1953). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702183050

From the description of Felix S. Cohen papers, 1916-1992. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702132016

Civil rights lawyer.

Cohen was an alumnus of City College, Class of 1926, and son of Morris Raphael Cohen.

From the description of Memorabilia, 1914-1960. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155502212

Felix Solomon Cohen was a lawyer with special interest in natural resources, in statehood and economic development for American territories, in Indian affairs, and in immigration and minority problems. He was a professor of jurisprudence, a civil servant, and an author of numerous articles on law, ethics, and philosophy, on Native Americans and minorities, and on human and natural resources. From 1933 through 1947 he served in the Solicitor's Office of the Interior Department as an assistant solicitor, associate solicitor, and acting solicitor. He also served as chairman of the Office's Board of Appeals. Cohen drafted the Wheeler-Howard Act (later known as the Indian Reorganization Act) of 1934, and contributed to the department's handling of Indian and Eskimo aboriginal rights. In 1939 Cohen was named Chief of the Indian Law Survey, a joint project of the Lands Division of the Department of Justice and of the Department of Interior to compile all federal laws, treaties, etc., involving Native Americans. Cohen edited a summary of the 46-volume survey, which was published by the Interior Department as The Handbook of Federal Indian Law and remains a milestone in the evolution of Indian law. He received the Department's highest honor--the Distinguished Service Award--on retirement from government service in 1948.

Cohen re-entered private general law practice in January 1948, but continued to be interested in the legal affairs of Native Americans and immigrants, in human rights, and in natural resources. He eventually associated his Washington, D.C. office with the New York law firm of Riegelman, Strasser, Schwarz & Spiegelberg (which later became known in Washington as Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman). Cohen handled several important pro bono Indian cases, particularly lawsuits which established Native Americans' rights to vote (in the last two states that had denied the franchise to them--New Mexico and Arizona), and to receive Social Security benefits in states that denied them such legal rights.

In 1946, Cohen had begun teaching legislative drafting and legal philosophy at Yale University's Law School, and jurisprudence at The City College of New York's Department of Philosophy. Cohen had also taught at the New School for School Research and the University of Newark Law School (later Rutgers Law School). In 1951 he published Readings in Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, the syllabus which he developed with his father, Morris R. Cohen, for both their jurisprudence courses (Morris Cohen at St. John's Law School and Felix Cohen at Rutgers and the New School for Social Research).

Felix S. Cohen was born in Manhattan, but grew up in Yonkers, New York. He attended The City College of New York, received an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1927 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1929. In 1928 Cohen entered Columbia Law School, graduating in 1931. He married Lucy M. Kramer that year; they had two daughters. He died at his home in Washington, D.C., in October 1953. Additional biographical detail can be gleaned from other material in Series V of this collection. Box 91, folder 1469 contains a brief biography of Felix S. Cohen by his wife.

From the guide to the Felix S. Cohen papers, 1916-1992, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Felix Solomon Cohen was a lawyer with special interests in natural resources, in statehood and economic development for American territories, in Indian affairs, and in immigration and minority problems. He was a professor of jurisprudence, a civil servant, and an author of numerous articles on law, ethics, and philosophy, on Native Americans and minorities, and on human and natural resources. From 1933 through 1947 he served in the Solicitor's Office of the Department of Interior as an assistant solicitor, associate solicitor, and acting solicitor. He also served as chairman of the Office's Board of Appeals. Cohen drafted the Wheeler-Howard Act (later known as the Indian Reorganization Act) of 1934, and contributed to the department's handling of Indian and Eskimo aboriginal rights. In 1939 Cohen was named Chief of the Indian Law Survey, a joint project of the Lands Division of the Department of Justice and of the Department of Interior to compile all federal laws, treaties, etc., involving Native Americans. Cohen edited a summary of the 46-volume survey, which was published by the Interior Department as The Handbook of Federal Indian Law and remains a milestone in the evolution of Indian law. He received the Department's highest honor--the Distinguished Service Award--on retirement from government service in 1948.

Cohen re-entered private general law practice in January 1948, but continued to be interested in the legal affairs of Native Americans and immigrants, in human rights, and in natural resources. He eventually associated his Washington, D.C. office with the New York law firm of Riegelman, Strasser, Schwarz & Spiegelberg (which later became known in Washington as Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman). Cohen handled several important pro bono Indian cases, particularly two lawsuits, Trujillo vs. Garley and Harrison vs. Laveen, which established Native Americans' rights to vote in the last two states that had denied the franchise to them--New Mexico and Arizona, as well as cases securing their right to receive Social Security benefits.

In 1946, Cohen had begun teaching legislative drafting and legal philosophy at Yale University's Law School, and jurisprudence at The City College of New York's Department of Philosophy. Cohen had also taught at the New School for School Research and the University of Newark Law School (later Rutgers Law School). In 1951 he published Readings in Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, the syllabus which he developed with his father, Morris R. Cohen, for both their jurisprudence courses (Morris Cohen at St. John's Law School and Felix Cohen at Rutgers and the New School for Social Research).

Felix S. Cohen was born in Manhattan, but grew up in Yonkers, New York. He attended The City College of New York, received an M.A. in philosophy from Harvard in 1927 and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1929. In 1928 Cohen entered Columbia Law School, graduating in 1931. He married Lucy M. Kramer that year; they had two daughters. He died at his home in Washington, D.C., in October 1953.

This biographical note is drawn from the finding aid for the Felix S. Cohen Papers, WA MSS S-1325.

From the guide to the Felix S. Cohen Papers Addition, 1927-1960, 1931-1953, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953. Felix S. Cohen papers addition, 1927-1960 (bulk 1931-1953). Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Tolan, Providencia, Sister. Sister Providencia Tolan Papers, 1888-1978, 1953-1978. Eastern Washington State Historical Society
referencedIn Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (bulk 1929-1957) Yale University Library
referencedIn Rushing, Theda,. Oral history interview with Theda Rushing, 9 September 2005. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Snyderman, George Simon, 1908-. Papers, 1758-1995. American Philosophical Society Library
creatorOf Felix S. Cohen papers, 1916-1992 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953. Felix S. Cohen papers, 1916-1992. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (inclusive), 1929-1957 (bulk). Yale University Library
referencedIn Howe, Mark De Wolfe. Mark De Wolfe Howe papers. 1933-1967. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Cornell University Library
creatorOf Felix S. Cohen Papers Addition, 1927-1960, 1931-1953 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Association on American Indian Affairs. Association on American Indian Affairs records, 1851-1995 (bulk 1922-1995). Princeton University Library
referencedIn Navajo Tribal Council. Minutes of the special session of the Navajo Tribal Council held at Fort Defiance, Arizona, [1934?]. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Lucy Kramer Cohen papers, 1902-2005 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Collier, John, 1884-1968. John Collier papers, 1910-1987 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn League for Industrial Democracy. Pamphlets, 1922-1978. Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives, Martin P. Catherwood Library, Cornell University.
referencedIn Oral history interview with Theda Rushing, 2005 September 9 University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research
referencedIn United States. Dept. of the Interior. Office of the Solicitor. Papers relating to the handbook of federal Indian law, 1938-1958. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Jerome New Frank papers, 1918-1972 (bulk 1929-1957) Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Cohen, Felix S., 1907-1953. Memorabilia, 1914-1960. Campbell University, Wiggins Memorial Library
referencedIn Freund, Paul A. Paul A. Freund papers. 1918-1993. Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn United States. Dept. of the Interior. Office of the Solicitor. Papers relating to the handbook of federal Indian law, 1938-1958. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Navajo Tribal Council. Minutes of the special session of the Navajo Tribal Council held at Fort Defiance, Arizona, [1934?]. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn John Collier papers, 1910-1987 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn The Nation, records, 1879-1974 (inclusive), 1920-1955 (bulk). Houghton Library
referencedIn Felix Frankfurter Letters to his sister Estelle, 1933-1964 Harvard Law School Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn John Collier papers Yale University Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Association on American Indian Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith Austen, Harry person
associatedWith Billikopf, Jacob, 1883-1950. person
associatedWith Bronstein, Daniel J. person
associatedWith Bronston, Jack Edward. person
associatedWith Bronston, Jack Edward. person
associatedWith Carus, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Carus, Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Cohen, Henry. person
associatedWith Cohen, Henry. person
associatedWith Cohen, Lucy Kramer. person
associatedWith Cohen, Morris Raphael, 1880-1947. person
associatedWith Cohen, Victor William. person
associatedWith College of the City of New York (1926-1961) corporateBody
associatedWith Collier, John, 1884-1968. person
associatedWith Conference on Jewish Relations (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Consultative Council of Jewish Organizations. corporateBody
associatedWith Curry, Cohen & Bingham. corporateBody
associatedWith Curry, Cohen & Bingham. corporateBody
associatedWith Curry, James E., 1907-1972. person
associatedWith Frankfurter, Felix, 1882-1965 person
associatedWith Frank, Jerome, 1889-1957. person
associatedWith Garley, Eloy person
associatedWith Garley, Eloy person
associatedWith Harrison, Frank person
associatedWith Harrison, Frank person
associatedWith Hart, John B. person
associatedWith Hart, John B. person
associatedWith Hass, Theodore H. person
associatedWith Hass, Theodore H. person
associatedWith Holman, Nat. person
associatedWith Holman, Nat. person
associatedWith Horn, Frances Lopinsky. person
associatedWith Horn, Frances Lopinsky. person
associatedWith Howe, Mark De Wolfe, 1906-1967. person
associatedWith Hyman, Jerome. person
associatedWith Hyman, Jerome. person
associatedWith Ickes, Harold L(Harold LeClair), 1874-1952. person
associatedWith Institute of Ethnic Affairs (Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Institute of Living Law. corporateBody
associatedWith Konvitz, Milton Ridvas, 1908- person
associatedWith Lachman, Karl E. person
associatedWith Lachman, Karl E. person
associatedWith Laveen, Roger G. person
associatedWith Laveen, Roger G. person
associatedWith League for Industrial Democracy. corporateBody
associatedWith Lesser, Alexander, 1902- person
associatedWith Levine, Pearl Ann. person
associatedWith Levine, Pearl Ann. person
associatedWith Margold, Nathan R., 1899-1947. person
associatedWith Mermin, Samuel, 1912- person
associatedWith Merritt, Marjorie. person
associatedWith Merritt, Marjorie. person
associatedWith Meyer, Arthur S. person
associatedWith Michael, Jerome, 1890-1953. person
associatedWith Mishnun-Hardman, Virginia. person
associatedWith Mitchell, Irene Williams. person
associatedWith Mitchell, Irene Williams. person
associatedWith National Lawyers Guild. corporateBody
correspondedWith Nation (New York, N.Y. : 1865). corporateBody
associatedWith Navajo Tribal Council. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Association for New Americans. corporateBody
associatedWith Paul A. Freund person
associatedWith Paul, William, Jr. person
associatedWith Paul, William, Jr. person
associatedWith Providencia, Sister. person
associatedWith Providencia, Sister. person
associatedWith Riegelman, Strasser, Schwartz & Spiegelberg. corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenfield, Harry Nathan, 1911- person
associatedWith Rosenfield, Leonora Cohen, 1909-1982. person
associatedWith Rushing, Theda person
associatedWith Rushing, Theda, person
associatedWith Russell, Bertrand, 1872-1970. person
associatedWith Shientag, Bernard L(Bernard Lloyd), 1887-1952. person
associatedWith Singer, Rita. person
associatedWith Singer, Rita. person
associatedWith Snyderman, George Simon, 1908- person
associatedWith Socialist Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Steinberg, Isaac Nachman, 1888-1957. person
associatedWith Tolan, Providencia, Sister. person
associatedWith Trager, Frank N. person
associatedWith Trager, Frank N. person
associatedWith Trujillo, Miguel N. person
associatedWith Trujillo, Miguel N. person
associatedWith United States. Dept. of the Interior. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Office of Indian Affairs. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallach, Sidney, 1947-1948. person
associatedWith Wiener, Philip Paul, 1947-1950. person
associatedWith Yale Law School. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Alaska
United States
Subject
Social problems
Indians of North America
Immigrants--Government policy--United States
Immigrants--Government policy
Indians of North America--Legal status, laws, etc
Indians of North America--Government relations--1934-
Civil rights
Suffrage--Law and legislation--United States
Suffrage--Law and legislation
Military education
Indians of North America--Alaska
Occupation
Lawyers
Lawyers--United States
Function

Person

Birth 1907-07-03

Death 1953-10-19

Americans

English

Information

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SNAC ID: 63728246