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Cohen (Sidney) collection
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
  • Preferred Citation
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Note
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Related Material

  • Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Title: Sidney Cohen collection
    Creator: Cohen, Sidney
    Identifier/Call Number: LSC.1845
    Physical Description: 43 Linear Feet (86 boxes)
    Date (inclusive): 1910-1987
    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.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Language of Material: English .

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: This collection contains both processed and unprocessed audiovisual materials. For information about the access status of the material that you are looking for, refer to the Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements note at the series and file levels. All requests to access processed audiovisual materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research, except for boxes 23, 85, and 86. All requests to access special collections materials must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    Boxes 23, 85, and 86 are covered by HIPAA and are, therefore, restricted and closed to access. Please contact Special Collections reference (spec-coll@library.ucla.edu) for more information.

    Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

    Property rights to the physical objects belong to UCLA Library Special Collections. All other 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.

    Preferred Citation

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

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Gift of Dorothy and Richard Cohen, 1999.

    Processing Note

    Collections are processed to a variety of levels depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived user interest and research value, availability of staff and resources, and competing priorities. Library Special Collections provides a standard level of preservation and access for all collections and, when time and resources permit, conducts more intensive processing. These materials have been arranged and described according to national and local standards and best practices.
    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.

    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 Ditman, 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. Articles and Manuscripts
    6. From Gerald Heard

    Related Material

    Gerald Heard papers   (Collection 1054). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Psychopharmacologists -- United States -- Archives.
    Sidney Cohen---Archives.