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Finding Aid for the Sidney Cohen collection, 1910-1987
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Sidney Cohen collection
    Date (inclusive): 1910-1987
    Collection number: 1845
    Creator: Cohen, Sidney
    Extent: 86 boxes (43 linear ft.)
    Abstract: Sidney Cohen conducted early LSD research in the 1950s and was a noted U.S. public expert on drug abuse from the 1960s to the 1980s. Cohen was a Professor of Psychiatry at UCLA and served in the Nixon Administration as the first Director, Division of Narcotic Abuse and Drug Addiction at the National Institute of Mental Health. He authored more than 250 journal and popular articles, books including The Beyond Within: The LSD Story, and served in editorial capacities for a number of journals. The Sidney Cohen Collection includes subject files covering Cohen's professional research, correspondence files from teen years until close to his death in 1987, biographical information documenting education and government service, audio tapes of LSD conferences from the late 1950s and early 1960s, a number of Cohen's articles and manuscripts, and files from LSD and mescaline experiments Cohen conducted with Gerald Heard.
    Language: Finding aid is written in English.
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Dorothy and Richard Cohen, 1999.

    Processing Note

    Processed by Robert Schraff in the Center for Primary Research and Training (CFPRT), with assistance from Kelley Wolfe Bachli, 2010.
    The processing of this collection was generously supported by Arcadia   funds.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sidney Cohen collection (Collection 1845). Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, UCLA.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 6540554 


    Sidney Cohen (1910-1987) was born in New York city in 1910, graduated as a pharmacist from Columbia University in 1930, and received his medical degree from Bonn University, Bonn, Germany, in 1938. After completing an internship in Jamaica, Long Island, and New York, Cohen entered the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific Campaign, eventually becoming a Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, from which he retired in 1963.
    After the war, Sidney Cohen completed an internal medicine residency. He then became the Assistant Chief of Medical Service for the Veteran's Administration Wadsworth Hospital in Los Angeles from 1948 to 1960. As UCLA's medical school was started, many V.A. physicians served as faculty, Cohen serving as an Associate Clinical Professor from 1954 to 1970. Cohen was a prolific writer in both medical journals and in popular media, with more than 250 articles to his credit. He also served as founder, member of an editorial review board or committee, or editor for a number of journals and collections including: Drug Dependence, Journal of Psychopharmacology, American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Drug Abuse and Alcoholism Review, Psychosomatics, International Journal of Addictions, and the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.
    Sidney Cohen was appointed the first Director, Division of Narcotic Abuse and Drug Addiction, National Institute of Mental Health by Richard Nixon in 1968, where he remained until 1970. Returning to UCLA, Cohen became a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and also participating on a number of government grant review committees, including serving as chair of the F.D.A's. Drug Abuse Advisory Committee from 1982 to 1983. Cohen also served as anti-drug consultant to the Army and the State Department, as well as various public relations and advertising agencies with pharmaceutical company clients, travelling as an expert on drugs and drug policy.
    Sidney Cohen is perhaps most well-known in popular culture for LSD experiments he conducted with Keith Dittman, Betty Eisner and Gerald Heard, based on correspondence with Humphrey Osmond, in the mid-1950s. Cohen also conducted a number of very loosely-controlled experiments with LSD, resulting in descriptions of LSD experiences. Cohen provided LSD to Clare Boothe Luce and Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, among numerous others. After becoming convinced that use of LSD could be dangerous, particularly if unsupervised, Cohen maintained a public anti-LSD stance and sometimes testy discourse with Timothy Leary. Cohen published The Beyond Within: The LSD Story in 1965. Cohen also provided the LSD used by Aldous Huxley in his deathbed experience and advocated LSD research, particularly for the terminally ill, until his own death in 1987.

    Scope and Content

    The papers cover Sidney Cohen's education, early family life, and entire career. There are extensive subject and correspondence files; biographical files containing documentation of Cohen's education and his Army, Army Reserve and Veterans Administration careers; audio tapes primarily relating to LSD conferences in the late 1950s and 1960s; a partial collection of Cohen's journal and popular magazine articles; and files in Gerald Heard's hand and believed to be given to Cohen after Heard's death by J. Michael Barrie.

    Organization and Arrangement

    Arranged in the following series:
    1. Subject Files
    2. Correspondence
    3. Biographical Material
    4. Audio Tapes
    5. From Gerald Heard

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.


    Sidney Cohen---Archives.

    Related Material

    Gerald Heard papers   (Collection 1054). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library.