Wilbur Cohen Interview with Edwin Witte

Witte seated in profile

ED WITTE's career was approximately evenly divided between university teaching and serving as a State or Federal official. For him these areas of activity were closely related. He was a part of the "Wisconsin Idea" of public service in a period when staff members at the University of Wisconsin were pioneering in the investigation of controversial social problems and emphasizing the importance of the university in making a major contribution to public policy issues. His career included service as Secretary of the Industrial Commission of Wisconsin, as Chief of the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Service, as head of the Department of Economics at the University of Wisconsin, as President of both the Industrial Relations Research Association and the American Economic Association, as secretary to a Wisconsin Congressman, as Executive Director and Secretary of the Committee on Economic Security, as a member of the first Advisory Council on Social Security, as a member of the Federal Advisory Council on Social Security, and as a member of the President's Committee on Administrative Management.

Wilbur Cohen in suit and glasses

WILBUR J. COHEN has been active in many areas of public welfare throughout his entire career. He moved to Washington after graduating from the University of Wisconsin in 1934, and became Research Assistant to Executive Director Witte of President Roosevelt's cabinet-level Committee on Economic Security. This Committee drafted the original Social Security Act. In 1935 he was a member of the Committee on Public Administration of the Social Science Research Council. At the time of this interview, he headed the Office of Research and Statistics. Later in his career, he served as Professor of Public Welfare Administration and as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan; and as Assistant Secretary for Legislation, Under-Secretary, and Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

Mr. Cohen was a former student and close personal friend of Ed Witte.

 Text of the 1955 Interview