Guide to the Phillips and Cohen Family Papers,​ 1936-​2009

Last Updated

Overview of the Collection

Special Collections & Archives
McIntyre Library
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
P.O.  Box 4004
105 Garfield Ave.
Eau Claire, WI 54702 – 4004
(715) 836-2739

Reference Code: Archives Series: USGZE UHC344 

Accession Number: 13-023

Collection Number: University Historical Collection 344

Creators: Lewis E. Phillips and Melvin Cohen (Eau Claire, WI)

Title: Phillips and Cohen Family Papers

Dates: 1936-2009

Quantity: 2.2 linear feet (2 archives boxes, 1 flat oversize box)

Location of Collection: A9/2d

Languages: Collection materials are in English.

Summary: L.E. Phillips (1899-1978) and Melvin Cohen (1918-2008) were two prominent Eau Claire industrialists and philanthropists. The collection includes a variety of newspaper clippings related to their community involvement and reports on their company, National Presto Industries. Company booklets and photographs are mixed with photographs of philanthropist work, as well as materials on Phillips’ Boy Scouts involvement and speeches. Other photographs depict the Phillips’ and Cohen’s community work.  

Biographical / Historical Note

Lewis E. Phillips was born in Kaunas, Lithuania on December 24, 1899. He grew up in Manitowoc, Wisconsin after he and his family moved there in 1901. He began working in the newspaper business at the age of 12 and entered into the distribution business in 1918 with his brother Jay and his father Edward, who had established Ed Phillips & Sons Company on April 13, 1912. Lewis settled in town after Ed Phillips & Sons opened a branch selling cigars, newspapers, tobacco and candy in Eau Claire in 1923. After prohibition ended in 1933, the company began distributing liquor while Jay Phillips acted as President of the company and Lewis as executive secretary. In 1942, Lewis and Jay bought into the National Pressure Cooker Company and Lewis became its president.  The company would change its name to National Presto Industries, Inc. in 1953. 

Under Lewis Phillips’ Presidency during World War II, the National Pressure Cooker Company converted to wartime production, giving women work while the men served overseas.  Phillips also made the decision to begin advertising the pressure cookers during wartime years in magazines, creating a large post-war demand for the company’s products.  Post World War II, L.E. Phillips used his position to donate money to organizations through the L. E. Phillips Family Foundation.  Over the years, funds have been given to many organizations in Eau Claire, including the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, the Boy Scouts of America, Luther Hospital, and Mount Sinai Hospital in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Through his many donations, L.E. Phillips became Chairman of the Board of Luther Hospital in 1960.  

L.E. Phillips passed away in 1978.  Today, he is recognized for his leadership and philanthropic activities.  He was a strong advocate for international boy scouts, and several buildings throughout Eau Claire are named in his honor.  These buildings include the L.E. Phillips Science Hall on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; the L. E. Phillips YMCA Indoor Sports Center; the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library; the L. E. Phillips Senior Center; and Camp Phillips, the Boy Scout Camp in Haugen, WI, to name only a few.

Melvin Cohen was born Jan. 16, 1918, in Minneapolis Minnesota.  He began his career in law by working as an attorney for the Office of Price Administration.  He began working for Presto Industries, Inc. in 1944.  Cohen climbed the corporate ladder, reaching the presidency in 1960 and chairman of the board in 1976.  Cohen held this position until his retirement in 2002.  As a philanthropist, he set up the Presto Foundation Scholarship Program for the children of Presto employees.  Cohen also founded the Melvin S. Cohen Foundation.  He was instrumental in funding many of the buildings in Eau Claire now named after L.E. Phillips.  Melvin Cohen passed away in 2008.

Content Description 

Materials include papers related to the Ed Phillips & Sons Company, including company booklets.  Paper of L.E. Phillips and Melvin Cohen include newspaper articles, photographs, personal correspondence, scrapbooks, and audio files of speeches given at events involving the Phillips family. The collection is divided into three series: Ed Phillips & Sons Company, Presto Industries, and Family Papers and Photographs. The third series, Family Papers and Photographs, is divided into two subseries:  Lewis E. Phillips Materials and Melvin Cohen Materials. 

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information: Donated to the Special Collections & Archives, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire in April 2013 by Amy Alpine.

Access Restrictions: Collection is open to the public 

Use Restrictions: Researchers are responsible for using in accordance with 17 U.S.C. Copyright not owned by the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

Preferred Citation: Phillips and Cohen Family Papers, 1936-2009.  UHC344. Special Collections & Archives.  McIntyre Library.  University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. Eau Claire, WI.

Processing Note: Processed by Wendy Guerra and Jacob Riehl in 2013.

Arrangement: By series 


Personal Names:
Phillips, Lewis E.
Cohen, Melvin

Corporate Names:
Ed Phillips & Sons Company
National Pressure Cooker Company
National Presto Industries

Subject Terms:
Family-owned businesses
Eau Claire history

Geographical Terms:             
Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Detailed List of Contents

Series 1: Ed Phillips & Sons Company

This series includes booklets about the Ed. Phillips & Sons Company; one was produced by Hiram Walker and the other by the company itself.  

Dates: 1936-1962

Extent: .1 linear feet (1 folder)




Box 1 Folder 1

Booklets on Ed Phillips & Sons Company

1936, 1962

Series 2: Presto Industries

This series contains newspaper articles pertaining to changes in management and different products introduced.  Also contained are editions of The Aluminator, a magazine created for the employees of the National Pressure Cooker Company.

Dates: 1943-2007

Extent: .2 linear feet (4 folders)




Box 1 Folder 2

The Aluminator


Box 1 Folder 3

The Aluminator 


Box 1 Folder 4

The Aluminator 


Box 1 Folder 5

Newspaper Clippings on Presto Industries


Series 3: Family Papers

The Family Papers series is split into two subseries; one for L.E. Phillips and the other for Melvin Cohen.  The L.E. Phillips subseries contain scrapbooks, photographs, speeches by L.E. Phillips, newspaper articles, and correspondence with the Boy Scout Camp in Israel.  The Melvin Cohen subseries contain newspaper clippings, photographs, speeches, and library renaming correspondence.  The series also includes recognition materials published by outside parties and audio files of both Melvin Cohen and L.E. Phillips giving speeches, including a 1951 speech by L.E. Phillips after being labeled as a strikebreaker.

Dates: 1936-2009

Extent: 1.9 linear feet (3 folders, 1 archives box, 1 flat oversized box)




Box 1 Folder 6



Box 1 Folder 7



Box 1 Folder 8



Box 2 Folder 1

L.E. Phillips newspaper clippings


Box 2 Folder 2

L.E. Phillips speeches


Box 2 Folder 3

Israel Scout Camp letters


Box 2 Folder 4



Box 2 Folder 5

Melvin Cohen Photographs


Box 2 Folder 6

Melvin Cohen newspaper clippings


Box 2 Folder 7

Library renaming correspondence


Box 2 Folder 8



Box 2 Folder 9

Written speech about L. E. Phillips by student David Steel based on his conversations with Mrs. L.E. Phillips


Box 3 Folder 1

L.E. Phillips Career Development Center Photographs


Box 3 Folder 2

Melvin Cohen Photograph


Box 3 Folder 3

L.E. Phillips Photographs

1936, circa 1968

Box 3 Oversize

L.E. Phillips framed photograph


Box 3 Oversize



Box 3 Oversize



Box 3 Oversize

Compact disc of National Convention of Christians and Jews


Box 3 Oversize

Compact disc of  L.E. Phillips Speeches and Dedications

1951, 1973

Box 3 Oversize

Compact disc of Melvin Cohen Speech to EC Teachers


Box 3 Oversize

Compact disc of Melvin Cohen Speech to NY Analysts