Guide to the Elizabeth Cohen Collection MS.343

Finding aid prepared by Nicholas G. Meriwether
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA, 95064
(831) 459-2547

Title: Elizabeth Cohen Collection
Identifier/Call Number: MS.343
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 6.0 containers (1) box, documents; (1) box, T-shirts; (1) box, realia; (3) items, over-sized realia
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1977-1991
Date (inclusive): 1948 - 2010
creator: Cohen, Elizabeth, (Elizabeth A.)
creator: Hart, Mickey
creator: Weir, Bob, 1947-

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection comprises documents, apparel, musical instruments, and equipment used in, or acquired during, Elizabeth Cohen's work with Grateful Dead band members Bob Weir and Mickey Hart on various projects.


Dr. Elizabeth Cohen is a physicist who specializes in acoustics. As an undergraduate at Bennington College in Vermont she combined her interest in music and physics, earning degrees in both fields in 1975. She earned her master’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford after completing a two-year program at Bell Labs, going on to earn her PhD in acoustics from Stanford. She retired as a professor of Film and Information studies at UCLA, where she also served as a board member of UCLA's Moving Image Preservation Program. In addition to her academic appointments at Stanford and UCLA, she founded her own consulting firm, Cohen Acoustical, in 1981, working with an array of clients including the Hollywood Bowl, Dolby Laboratories, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She served as the president of the Audio Engineering Society and was an engineering fellow to the White House National Economic Council. Her work with the Grateful Dead included research with Bob Weir to develop an electric guitar, a collaboration that resulted in a coauthored article, "The Influence of Signal Processing Devices on the Timbre Perception of Electrical Guitars," published in the Journal of Guitar Acoustics, no. 6 (1982). She went on to work with Mickey Hart and UC Santa Cruz music professor Fredric Lieberman on several projects relating to drumming, percussion and rhythm, which informed the books Drumming at the Edge of Magic (1990), Planet Drum (1991), and Spirit into Sound (1999). As one journalist observed, "The effusive Cohen speaks about acoustical technology with a fervor approaching evangelism" (Karen Kaplan, “The Sounds Inside Our Heads,” Los Angeles Times, July 14, 1997).

Separated Materials

(2) backstage passes, Grateful Dead at Madison Square Garden, Sept. 12, 1991, removed and filed with MS350, Deadhead Contributions, Backstage Passes.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Grateful Dead (Musical group)

Box 1


Physical Description: 3.0 files
Box 1, Folder 1

"Different Drum" Proposal

Physical Description: 14.0 pages
Box 1, Folder 2

Contract, Copyright Registration

Physical Description: 3.0 pages
Box 1, Folder 3

Concert Program, Gyoto Tantric Choir, Miles Davis, Philip Glass, Mickey Hart, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, Dec. 3, 1988

Physical Description: 8.0 pages
Box 2


Physical Description: 21.0 items (18) T-shirts and (4) sweat-shirts
Box 2, Object 1

T-shirt (front): "Old & In the Way", ca. 1973. ms0343_obj_0001

Box 2, Object 2

T-shirt (front//back): "Grateful Dead, Mars Hotel" [Stanley Mouse] // "Cinema", ca. 1974. ms0343_obj_0002

Box 2, Object 3

T-shirt (front): "The Gibson" [Stanley Mouse, hand-painted], ca. 1978. ms0343_obj_0003

Box 2, Object 4

T-shirt, long-sleeved (front//back): "Grateful Dead | Blues Borthers | NRPS" // "New Years Eve | Winterland | December 31, 1978 | Breakfast Served At Dawn". ms0343_obj_004

Box 2, Object 5

Sweat-shirt (front//back): "Northern Stage Co." // "The Grateful Dead | Alaska | 1980". ms0343_obj_0005

Box 2, Object 6

T-shirt (front): "High Noon" [Stanley Mouse], 1981. ms0343_obj_006

Box 2, Object 7

T-shirt (front//back): "Dance For Disarmament" [Stanley Mouse] // "Dance For Disarmament | Joan Baez | Jerry Garcia | Mickey Hart | Phil Lesh | Bob Weir | and | High Noon | San Mateo County | Fairgrounds | December 12, 1981 | Presented by Humanitas". ms0343_obj_007

Box 2, Object 8

Sweat-shirt, sleeveless (front//back): "Bobby & the Midnites" / "BOBBY | & the | MIDNITES | BOBBY WEIR | BILLY COBHAM | BOBBY COCHRAN | DAVE GARLAND | KENNY CRADNEY", ca. 1981. ms0343_obj_008

Box 2, Object 9

T-shirt (front): "Bobby and the Midnites" [Victor Moscoso], 1982. ms0343_obj_0009

Box 2, Object 10

T-shirt, long-sleeved (front//back): "Grateful Dead" [Dead Set illustration by Dennis Larkins] // "1982". ms0343_obj_0010

Box 1, Object 11

T-shirt (front//back): GD graphic [Rick Griffin]// "Grateful Dead | Fall Tour '82". ms0343_obj_0011

Box 1, Object 12

Sweat-shirt (front): "Grateful Dead" [David Lundquist], 1984. ms0343_obj_0012

Box 2, Object 13

T-shirt, long-sleeved (front//back): Grateful Dead logo [Owsley/Thomas variant] // "Spring |Tour | 1985 | Grateful Dead". ms0343_obj_0012

Box 2, Object 14

T-shirt (front): "The Gyuto Tantric Monastery | Multiphonic Choir | Berkeley Community Theatre | May 18, 1985". ms0343_obj_0014

Box 2, Object 15

T-shirt (front): Modified Grateful Dead logo, "Feb. 8, 9, 11, 12, 14", [fan-made], ca. 1986. ms0343_obj_0015

Box 2, Object 16

T-shirt, sleeveless (front//back): "Grateful Dead" [Rick Griffin]// "Summer Tour | 1986". ms0343_obj_0016

Box 2, Object 17

Sweat-shirt (front): "Planet Drum", ca. 1991. ms0343_obj_0017

Box 2, Object 18

T-shirt (front): Planet Drum / Steal-Your-Face logo, 1999. ms0343_obj_0018

Box 2, Object 19

Sweat-shirt (front): "Grateful Dead | madison sq. garden", n.d. ms0343_obj_0019

Box 2, Object 20

T-shirt (front): "Seva | A Solution in Sight", n.d. ms0343_obj_0020

Box 2, Object 21

T-shirt (front): "My Lightning Too", n.d. ms0343_obj_0021

Box 3


Physical Description: 1.0 item
Box 3, Object 22

African-style thumb piano (kalimba). ms0343_obj_0022

Instrument Note: This African-style thumb piano (or kalimba) was made for Dr. Cohen by Santa Cruz luthier and instrument builder Jim Loveless ca. 1979-1980, as part of her work with Mickey Hart and UCSC music professor Fredric Lieberman on the books Drumming at the Edge of Magic (1990) and Planet Drum (1991).
Oversize 1, Object 23

Electric guitar in case. ms0343_obj_023

Instrument Note: This Modulus Graphite guitar prototype was designed by Jeff Hasselberger, Bob Weir, and Elizabeth Cohen. Created by Jeff Gould, it was used by Dr. Cohen during her work with Weir and Hasselberger that produced their article, "The Influence of Signal Prcoessing Devices on the Timbre Perception of Electric Guitars," Journal of Guitar Acoustics 6 (Sept. 1982): 123-126.
Oversize 2, Object 24

Fender Modified Pro-Amp 5D5 Tweed Tube Amplifier, 1948. ms0343_obj_0024

Item Note: This very early Fender instrument amplifier was used by Dr. Cohen during her work with Bob Weir and Jeff Hasselberger to develop an electric guitar prototype.
Oversize 3, Object 25

Halliburton "Zero" model aluminum briefcase, decorated. ms0343_obj_0025

Item Note: This briefcase is one of only a few prototypes made by Halliburton Corp. for the Grateful Dead and a few of their friends and colleagues.