Cohns donate Michigan books to the Historical Society of Michigan

LANSING—Retired U.S. District Judge Avern L. Cohn and his wife, Lois, recently donated more than 500 selected books, journals and other items from his personal library that focus on Michigan history to enhance the collection of the Lois and Avern Cohn Library and Archives in HSM’s headquarters building, the Meijer Center for Michigan History, in Lansing. The library and archives were named for Lois and Avern Cohn last year.

HSM, the oldest cultural institution in the state, is a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization designated as Michigan’s official state historical society. Its Michigan history education programming and publications serve the entire state. Judge Cohn is a lifetime member of the organization and generous supporter.

“Judge Cohn is an avid historian and long-time friend and member of the Historical Society of Michigan,” said Larry J. Wagenaar, executive director and CEO of HSM for nearly 20 years. “We appreciate his involvement and generosity over many decades, which has helped us enhance our history education mission in so many ways. We are fortunate that he knows how important history is to the future of Michigan and wants succeeding generations to understand how their state became what it is. It really is an amazing story that we are able to share more of because of Judge Cohn’s help.”

 While HSM is not a collecting institution and does not operate a museum, it maintains a library of books focused on Michigan history for members and staff use. The Lois and Avern Cohn Library and Archives now includes more than 3,000 volumes focuings on important aspects of Michigan history and more than 100 linear feet of organizational archive material collected by HSM since its founding in 1828.

The library collection is normally accessible to HSM members  when the Meijer Center for Michigan History is open to the public. During the pandemic, the building is not  open to the public.

Judge Cohn also made a financial contribution to HSM to support a full book inventory of his donated books as well as support for additional cataloging of the library this year. This will enable HSM to bring in outside professional expertise to begin the work of integrating Cohn’s donation of historical books with existing volumes. It will also allow HSM to process other uncatalogued books in the collection, which will help people who want to use the library as a research resource.


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