HSM, the oldest cultural institution in the state, has been designated as Michigan’s official state historical society.
Retired U.S. District Judge Avern L. Cohn and his wife, Lois, donated more than 500 selected books, journals and other items to the Historical Society of Michigan (HSM) from their personal library.
The collection, which focuses on Michigan history, will enhance the collection of the Lois and Avern Cohn Library and Archives, located 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.
“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, in a release. “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.”
In addition to the donation of his books, 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 gift will enable HSM to bring in outside professional expertise to begin the work of integrating Cohn’s donation of historical books with the existing volumes in the library. 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.
While HSM is not a collecting institution and does not operate a museum, it does maintain a library of books focused on Michigan history for members and staff use.
According to a release, The Lois and Avern Cohn Library and Archives now includes more than 3,000 volumes that focus on important aspects of Michigan history and more than 100 linear feet of organizational archive material collected by HSM since its founding in 1828.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Meijer Center for Michigan History is not currently open to the public.