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Sam M. Cohodas papers

Identifier: MSS-018

Scope and Contents note

This collection contains papers, photographs, and audio visual records of Sam M. Cohodas, documenting his life and accomplishments from World War I when he served in the United States Army until his death at the age of 92. These materials, dating from 1903 to 1988, primarily relate to Cohodas’ latter years--in particular, celebrations in Cohodas' honor as a prominent force in Upper Peninsula banking and philanthropy both locally and internationally.

The bulk of the collection was arranged and collected in scrapbooks, by and for Sam Cohodas. These scrapbooks pertain both to specific and miscellaneous events and consist of greetings and congratulatory cards, letters, and telegrams, photographs relating to the event(s) as well as earlier photographs interspersed to document Cohodas' life over the years. Events documented include birthday celebrations, banking anniversaries and openings, visits to Israel, his relationship to Northern Michigan University, and Cohodas' home and family life in Ishpeming, Michigan; Sarasota, Florida; and at the Cohodas Lodge at Lake Michigamme, Michigan. Also included in the collection are early photographs of the Cohodas family including several which illustrate Cohodas' early years in business as a produce manufacturer.


  • 1903 - 1988


Conditions Governing Access note

No restrictions. Open for research.

Conditions Governing Use note

Permission to publish material from the Sam M Cohodas papers, MSS-018, must be obtained from the University Archivist. The University Archivist may be reached by phone at 906-227-1225, or e-mail, The University Archivist may also be reached in Room 126 of the Learning Resource Center, Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI.

Biographical note

Sam M. Cohodas was born on September 19, 1895 in Kobylnik, Poland. His father Aaron immigrated to the United States and moved to Marinette, Wisconsin. Aaron's wife Eva and six children followed in 1903 when Sam was 7 years old. Sam quit school in the sixth grade, and by the age of 13 began peddling fruits. He served in the United States Army during World War I.

The family produce business was established by Sam's father Aaron in Houghton, Michigan. The Cohodas Brothers Fruit Company was formed when Sam was nineteen and eventually became the third largest produce company in the United States. Sam Cohodas was involved in fruit and vegetable manufacturing for 60 years and served as president and vice president of Western Fruit Jobbers in 1933-1934, and as director of the International Apple Association.

Cohodas’s second major career began in banking in 1934 when he opened the Miners’ First National Bank of Ishpeming, Michigan. He eventually acquired the First National Bank of Marquette, as well as banks and branches in Escanaba, Hermansville, Iron Mountain, Ironwood, Trenary, and K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base, which together formed Michigan Financial Corporation (MFC) of which he remained chairman of the board until age 90.

Cohodas, or “Mr. Sam” as his friends often called him, was also known for his philanthropic and community activities. Locally, he was involved in such organizations as the Red Cross, Boy Scouts of America, and the United Way. He was instrumental in establishing Francis A. Bell Memorial Hospital in Ishpeming. In recognition of his work, he was named “First Citizen of Ishpeming” in 1960.

Cohodas was supportive of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel where he received an honorary doctorate of Agricultural Economics in recognition of his support. The University also named the Sam Cohodas Chair in Agricultural Economics at the Faculty of Agriculture in his honor. Cohodas was involved in many charity activities, including Boys Town in Jerusalem and Bell Memorial Hospital in Ishpeming, for which he raised $2 million. He also made contributions and/or helped raise funds for the Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota), The Shaare Zedek Jewish Hospital (Detroit, Michigan), and the National Jewish Hospital (Denver, Colorado).

Cohodas died in 1988 at the age of 92.


13 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement note

Arranged alphabetically by subject heading.

Separated Materials Note

Information on materials separated from the collection can be found in Box 10, folder 1.

Sam M. Cohodas papers
Finding aid prepared by Clare Hensley and Marcus C. Robyns
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives Repository

Harden Learning Resources Center 126
1401 Presque Isle Ave
Marquette 49855 United States
906-227-1333 (Fax)


This collection guide includes collections from member organizations of UPLINK (the Upper Peninsula Digital Network) as well as the Central Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan University Archives. UPLINK collections document the history of the Upper Peninsula broadly, while the Central UP & NMU Archives focuses on such topics as Northern Michigan University history, the local iron mining industry, and the politics, economics, religion, environment, and culture of the Central Upper Peninsula region.

These finding aids will give you an overview of the contents and context of each collection. Finding aids only exist for collections that each organization has shared with UPLINK or (in the case of the NMU Archives) for processed collections. For a more comprehensive list of collections that might help with your research, please contact the relevant heritage organization(s) directly.

Northern Michigan University
1401 Presque Isle Ave. • Marquette, MI 49855-5301 • 906–227–1000
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