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Jeffery Cohelan Collection

Identifier: CAC-CC-012
The Jeffery Cohelan Collection contains 95 cubic feet of documents, all of which are from his congressional office. The material spans the period of 1930-1970, although the bulk of the collection is from 1959-1970, when Cohelan was in office.
The Cohelan Collection contains 120 linear feet of materials, with the vast majority of items related to his time in office from 1959-1970. The documents include correspondence, press releases, questionnaires, speeches, notes, memos, background research, publications, and legislation. Known for his support of President Johnson and various progressive reforms, Cohelan’s collection is particularly strong in regard to civil rights, conservation of natural resources, the Vietnam War, and labor. While the Legislative series includes the majority of the constituent correspondence Cohelan received in addition to more basic legislative based documents, more background information and “behind-the-scenes” materials can be found in the Topical series.


  • 1959-1971
  • Majority of material found in 1959-1971


Conditions Governing Access

This collection (excluding the Photographs Series which is stored on-site), is stored off-site and requires prior notice to access. If you wish to view these materials, please contact the Congressional Archives staff to arrange an appointment.

Conditions Governing Use:

The University of Oklahoma asserts no claim of copyright over photographs in this collection taken by private citizens. Any publication of such photographs requires the consent of the copyright holder.


120 Linear Feet (98 containers)

Biographical Information:

Democrat Jeffery Cohelan (1914-1999) was born in San Francisco and attended public school and San Mateo Junior College before receiving an A.B. degree from the University of California. He continued his studies there at the Graduate School of Economics and was a Fulbright research scholar at Leeds and Oxford Universities in England in 1953-1954.

Before his election to Congress, Cohelan served in many public capacities. He was elected secretary-treasurer of the Milk Drivers' and Dairy Employees' Local 302, Alameda and Contra Costa Counties in 1942. He served as a consultant to the University of California Institute of Industrial Relations and as a member of the Berkeley Welfare Commission from 1949 to 1953. He was a city councilman in Berkeley from 1955 to1958. Cohelan was also an active member of the San Francisco Council on Foreign Relations, the Commonwealth Club of California, and various fraternal groups.

From 1959-1971, Cohelan served in the U.S. House as the Representative of California's Seventh District. This territory includes Berkeley and northern Oakland, and is conventionally one of the nation's most left-leaning congressional districts. During Cohelan's tenure, he served on the Armed Services, Appropriations, and District of Columbia committees and focused his attention on civil rights, conservation of natural resources, education, foreign affairs, labor, Vietnam, and anti-Vietnam protests, especially those within his district. Important legislation Cohelan sponsored was for the creation of Redwood National Park in northern California and ending the importation of migrant farm labor, the Braceros, from Mexico.

Unable to counter political accusations that he was only a lukewarm opponent of the Vietnam War, Cohelan lost the Democratic primary of 1970 to Ronald V. Dellums, a more militant liberal and former Berkeley councilman. Following the completion of his term, Cohelan remained with his family in the Washington, D.C. area and assumed the executive directorship of the Group Health Association of American until his retirement in 1979.

Arrangement of Materials:

This collection is arranged into 8 series: Series 1: Public Relations Files, 1958-1970 Series 2: Political Files, 1940-1970 (bulk 1958-1966) Series 3: Legislative Files, 1957-1971 (bulk 1959-1971) Series 4: Administrative Files, 1950-1970 (bulk 1958-1970) Series 5: Personal Files, 1958-1970 (bulk 1959-1970) Series 6: Topical Files, 1947-1970 (bulk 1966-1970) Series 7: Case Files, 1954-1970 (bulk 1959-1970) Series 8: Photographs, 1959-1971. The Public Relations series is arranged alphabetically by type of document, and chronologically within each type. The types include correspondence, newsletters to constituents, press clippings, press releases, questionnaires to constituents, special mailings to constituents and others, speeches and statements, and transcripts of Cohelan's TV and radio appearances. The Political series is arranged chronologically with subdivisions under each year for California, District (California's Seventh Congressional District), national, and personal. The top-level arrangement of the Legislative series is by Congress, beginning with the Eighty-sixth (1959-1960) and continuing through the Ninety-first (1969-1971). Each Congress is further divided alphabetically into congressional committees and by subject within these committees. Documents within each folder are arranged chronologically. The series ends with files on Cohelan's legislation and voting record and some additional materials from the Eighty-sixth Congress that were discovered at a belated point in the processing. The top level arrangement of the Administrative series is by year, beginning with 1959 and ending with 1970. Under each year, folders are arranged alphabetically by department or agency name (with federal departments appearing first), then federal independent agencies, judicial files, and State of California files. Folder sub arrangement is alphabetical by topic, and documents within topics are generally organized chronologically. The top level of arrangement of the Personal series is by year. Sub arrangement is alphabetical with the exception of calendars and invitations, which are arranged chronologically. The Topical series is arranged alphabetically by topic, the general categories of which are loosely based on House committees. The Case Files series is arranged alphabetically by the constituent's last name.
The Cohelan Collection is arranged into 8 series: Public Relations Files, Political Files, Legislative Files, Administrative Files, Personal Files, Topical Files, Case Files, and Photographs. The materials are largely organized chronologically with the exception of the Public Relations, Topical, and Case Files series.
Guide to the Jeffery Cohelan Collection
Finding Aid Authors: Heather M. Bateman.
Language of description
The collection description/finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the Carl Albert Center Congressional and Political Collections Repository

630 Parrington Oval
Room 202B
Norman Oklahoma 73109 United States