Dr. William Cohen — The early Klan

Dr. William Cohen taught history at Hope College in Holland, Michigan Cohen, joining the faculty in 1971, and occasionally serving as chair of the department of history. He also advised Hope students interested in applying for prestigious, highly competitive Marshall and Rhodes scholarships for graduate study. He officially retired in 1991, but continued his involvement as emeritus with the school and its students.

He was our first interview and served as guide for our investigations.

Cohen’s scholarship has included the topics of slavery and post-Civil War black mobility. In 1993, he received the Southern Historical Association’s Francis Butler Simkins Award for his book At Freedom’s Edge: Black Mobility and the Southern White Quest for Racial Control,
He has also written numerous articles and book reviews for scholarly publications, and has made a number of presentations at professional meetings.

Prior to coming to Hope, he was a research associate with the Center for Urban Studies at the University of Chicago for three years. He had also been a lecturer in history at Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Cohen helds his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, his master’s from Columbia University and his doctorate from New York University.

Dr. Cohen died in 2020.

Here is the transcript of our interview with Dr. Bill Cohen.