Born in Chicago, Ellis B. Kohs was the son of Samuel C. Kohs. His early music training was at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and at New York City's Institute of Musical Art. He received a Master's degree (1938) from the University of Chicago and engaged in further musical study at the Julliard Graduate School and at Harvard. During World War II, he served as a warrant officer and bandleader for bands in the U.S. Army and in the U.S. Air Force. After the war, he taught music at the Kansas City Conservatory of Music and at several universities; was a board member of composers' associations; and received many awards for his work. In 1950, he became the chairman of the theory department in the University of Southern California's School of Music. In 1966, he was appointed the Director of Western Region for the Institute for Music in Contemporary Education. In addition, he has composed many pieces of music, several of which have been commercially recorded, including "Amerika: a Musical Tragicomedy in three acts and eleven scenes after the Novel" and "Passacaglia.
The collection includes a brochure with biographical information about Ellis B. Kohs, a score for Kohs' "Three Chorale-Variations on Hebrew Hymns," and a libretto for his "Amerika," based on the Franz Kafka novel.