Judge Avern Cohn is the first recipient of Michigan History Foundation award named in his honor


The Michigan History Foundation has created the Avern L. Cohn Distinguished Michigan Civic Historian Award – naming the Hon. Avern L. Cohn as the first recipient, for his significant contributions in preserving Michigan’s history.

The award was presented during a virtual gathering on March 25, with Chief Justice Bridget McCormack serving as the award presenter.

McCormack referred to Cohn as a “history maker and history writer.” She talked about how much she admires him and how he has “a historian’s view of the Michigan Supreme Court.”

Joining in the celebration were several of Cohn’s family and friends, former colleagues, and Michigan History Foundation board members and staff.

Cohn authored “Three Frenchmen, Three Centuries Across Michigan,” sharing the routes of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, and Alexis de Tocqueville. He donated this work to the Michigan History Foundation, to use for educational programming and to raise funds to preserve, interpret and share Michigan’s history.

Cohn is a student of history, who has written, researched, and contributed  articles to Michigan History magazine, Michigan Jewish History, the Michigan Supreme Court Historical Society, and other publications.

Cohn was appointed as a U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of Michigan by President Jimmy Carter effective October 9, 1979 and served until December 2019.

Cohn’s interest in history started in elementary school. During his remarks after receiving the award, he referenced the Spanish philosopher George Santayana, who said, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Cohn also called “Three Frenchmen, Three Centuries Across Michigan” his favorite history project and “crowning achievement.” It is available at www.MichiganHistory.org/donate.

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