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The University of Iowa Libraries

Guide to the Lida Cochran papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1917-2006
Creator: Cochran, Lida (1911-2007)
Extent: 8.00 linear feet.
Collection Number: IWA0581
Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Summary: Audiovisual educator and professor in the Education Department at the University of Iowa.

Access: The papers are open for research.

Use: Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa.

Acquisition: The papers (donor no. 916) were donated by Lida Cochran in 2003.

Preferred Citation: Lida Cochran papers, Iowa Women's Archives, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City.

Repository: Iowa Women's Archives
Address: 100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5068
Curator: Kären Mason

Lida Weed Myers Cochran was born in 1911 in Athol, Kansas to Fred and Edna Weed. Graduating from Washburn University in Topeka in 1934 with a degree in history and French, she initially planned to write historical novels. Lida Weed wrote one-act plays for the Kansas Day Commemorations in 1935, 1936, and 1937. In 1939, the Kansas State Historical Society hired her to write and produce a pageant honoring the founders of the Shawnee Indian Mission Society in Kansas City, Kansas.

In 1933 she married Harry A. Myers, a dentist. Their son, Dennis Craig, was born in 1940. To escape the Kansas heat, the family moved to Seattle, Washington in July 1941, six months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. When the war began, Harry Myers joined the army and Lida Myers moved to Los Angeles, California where she studied photography, for which she received recognition in photographic exhibitions.

After the War, the Myers family moved back to Washington, to the small town of Elma, which needed a dentist. Lida Myers opened a photographic studio specializing in children's pictures, and in 1956 she was hired to head a new audiovisual program for the Montesano County, Washington schools. A year later, in December 1957, her husband, Harry Myers was killed in an auto accident.

In the summer of 1958, Lida Myers was awarded a graduate assistantship at Central Washington State University where she earned a masters degree in Education. The University hired her to teach photography and to establish a new audiovisual services unit for the University. Two years later the University sent her to visit audiovisual centers in the Midwest where AV services were emerging in universities.

While visiting the University of Iowa, Lida Myers met Lee W. Cochran. He had started working with films while in high school, working for Iowa's Extension Division, which serviced schools and organizations in the Midwest with 16 mm films and glass slides. From these beginnings Lee Cochran went on to serve in the Navy during World War II, he created the Audiovisual Center in the Extension Division at the University of Iowa, and taught audiovisual courses in the College of Education. Lida Myers and Lee Cochran met in August and were married in December of 1960. The University of Iowa's College of Education hired Lida Cochran as a half-time instructor in the summer of 1961 and promoted her to a full-time assistant professor in 1969.

Cochran attended state meetings of the Audiovisual Education Association of Iowa (AVEAI) where she was the only woman. In 1968 she was elected president. Cochran also was active in the national audiovisual organization, the Department of Audiovisual Instruction (DAVI), for which she served as National Membership Chair and later as a member of the National Board. In 1972 DAVI ceased to be a Department of NEA and changed its name to the Association of Educational Communications and Technology.

Cochran's class produced the sound-slide program, "What is DAVI?" The program was so well received by the DAVI Board that it persuaded Kodak to print fifty copies, one for each State Membership Chair. In 1967 Cochran met John L. Debes III, from the Eastman Kodak Company and was introduced to his idea of Visual Literacy, that 'visuals are a language.' At a Visual Literacy Workshop hosted by the University of Iowa in 1973, Debes met Howard Jones, Education Dean at the University of Iowa and Iowa Testing Programs Director, William Coffman. Later that year Debes and Cochran discussed the need for a national Visual Literacy Center and the possibility of locating it in Iowa. Cochran submitted a proposal and in August 1974, Debes and Eric Johnson, Head of Kodak's Education Services Department, met with Dean Jones, Coffman, and others who could potentially be included in a Visual Literacy project.

The Iowa Visual Scholars Program at the University of Iowa was officially funded by Kodak in 1975. Cochran announced the new program at the annual meeting of the International Visual Literacy Association (IVLA) in Portland, Oregon. As Co-Acting Directors, Coffman and Cochran advertised for a recognized scholar to head the new program and for creative graduate students to conduct research. Bikkar S. Randhawa, an Education Psychologist from the University of Saskatchewan was hired as program director in 1975, and Paul Younghouse and Sarah Donnelley were the first students in the program. Randhawa resigned from the program after two years and was followed by Kathryn Lutz, a computer-assisted instruction professional from the University of Illinois.

When Dean Jones retired in 1976 the Visual Scholars Program lost its major support within the University. Cochran continued teaching and working for the program until May 1981, when she retired as Associate Professor Emeritus. The Visual Scholars Program ended in the early 1980s when its funding ran out, yet its impact continued in the ongoing work of the many graduate students who participated in the Visual Scholars program. Cochran continued in her search for a theory that would describe how Visual Language fits with other languages of human communication and worked on a paper proposing such a theory well into her nineties.

Cochran attended IVLA and AECT conferences through the year 2000 and served as managing editor of The Journal of Visual Verbal Languaging. Her leadership in the field was recognized through awards ranging from the Jack Debes Award from IVLA, and the Distinguished Service Award from AECT, to status as Emeritus Member of the ECT Foundation Board, and the Advisory Board for the Benedict Visual Literacy Collection at Arizona State University.

At retirement Cochran was also actively engaged in political and charitable organizations. She continued her membership with the League of Woman Voters, the Johnson County League of Nations-- USA, the Foreign Relations Council, the University of Iowa Retirees Association, and in two honorary fraternities, the Phi Delta Kappa and Delta Kappa Gamma. She supported a new Public Access Channel on the Hawkeye TV Cable in Iowa City by producing videotapes of her travels and helping others to record their activities and cablecast them, and represented WillowWind school on the Education Channel. She served for six years on both the Public Access Board and on the board supporting United Action for Youth. In 1978 Cochran was featured in the Who's Who of American Women. Lida Cochran died in November 2007.

The Lida Cochran papers date from 1917 to 2006 and measure 7.9 linear feet. The papers are arranged in four series: Biographical information, Visual Scholars Program, Photographs, and Artifacts.

The Biographical Information series (1981-2006) consists of notes of an interview with Lida Cochran in 2002. This includes a summary of the origins and development of the Visual Scholars Program at the University of Iowa. Included is the pageant written and directed by Cochran to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Shawnee Indian Mission in Kansas City, Kansas, a letter that details the car accident that lead to her first husband Harry Myer's death, a memoir written by her second husband, Lee W. Cochran, and letters of congratulations on her retirement in 1987. Two biographical videocassettes complete the series. The first is a 1996 interview with Ellen Buchanan on the Iowa City Public Library program, One of A Kind. The second is a recording of Cochran's 90th birthday celebration in 2001, which consists of a biographical collage of photographs and an open-mike forum with her friends and family.

The Visual Scholars Program series (1973-1990) consists of three subseries: Departmental History, Class Materials, and Research Presentations. The Departmental History subseries (1973-1980) contains administrative documents and correspondence pertaining to the early development of the Visual Scholars Program. The Advisory Committee meeting minutes and Kodak Report provide insight into the program's vision, goals, and agenda. The Class Materials subseries (1975-1979) contains course outlines and teaching materials for classes taught in the Visual Scholars Program. The Research and Presentations subseries (1973-1990) consists of articles and audiovisual productions written and produced by Cochran for scholarly journals, along with drafts, manuscripts, and correspondence with editors, co-authors, and colleagues. Included are presentations given by Cochran at local schools and national organizations. Papers, bibliographies and reviews of literature relevant to the study of visual language written by Visual Scholars students and faculty comprise the Research by Others subseries. A finding aid for the Lida Cochran papers retained within the Visual Literacy Collection at Arizona State University Libraries completes the series.

The Photographs series (1917-2001) contains Cochran's family albums and memory books, and photographs of herself, husband, and son on vacation in Washington. Included is an album of photographs honoring Cochran at her 90th birthday party. Cochran's professional photography includes action and landscape images taken throughout Washington, and studio portraits of children. Photographs of Visual Scholars students and faculty interacting and presenting at conferences and visual literacy slides are included in this series.

The Artifacts series consists of Cochran's photography award ribbons, bowling club patches, a hand-sewn purse, beadwork, and membership pins. These pins include the Iowa Century Club, Iowa President's Club, Iowa Majority, IVLA, AECT, U.S. Army Officers Family pin, and a high school ring.
Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) records

The National Public Broadcasting Archives, University of Maryland

Joel and Irene Benedict Visual Literacy Collection

Lida Cochran papers, Arizona State University Library

Iowa Educational Media Association Papers

Rod Library, Special Collections, University of Northern Iowa

Browse by Series:

  • Box 1:
  • Lida Cochran Papers - 2006
  • Box 1:
  • Executive Committee: meeting minutes (3 folders) - 1975-1980
  • Executive Committee: Curriculum committee - 1978
  • Executive Committiee: Dissemination committee - 1978
  • Steering Committee: meeting minutes (2 folders) - 1975-1977
  • Steering Committee: correspondence
  • Steering Committee: letters of appointment - 1979
  • Steering Committee: Membership list - 1979
  • Steering Committee: Questionnaires - 1979
  • Box 2:
  • Steering Committee: Research concerns and interests, - 1977
  • Steering Committee: VSP coordinator search - 1975-1979
  • Structures and policies committee
  • "An Overview of the Visual Scholars Program," undated
  • Assistant professor job description, undated
  • Brochures - 1976-1978
  • College of Liberal Arts faculty meeting minutes - 1975-1977
  • Access to Excellence in Film and Video Conference - 1978
  • Annual Conference on Visual Literacy, University of Iowa - 1977
  • Visual Literacy Conference - 1973
  • Conference on Data Generation through Visual Media - 1979
  • Conference on Visual Learning, Thinking and Communication - 1976
  • Miscellaneous conferences - 1975-1988
  • Correspondence: Letters of thanks
  • Correspondence: Lutz, Kathryn
  • Correspondence: Debes, Jack
  • Course selection discussion
  • Box 3:
  • Finances - 1977-1979
  • Gavriel Salomon visit - 1978
  • Housekeeping - 1977-1978
  • International Visual Literacy Association - 1975-1977
  • Kodak Report: Correspondence - 1973-1980
  • Kodak Report: Proposal to the Eastman Kodak Company - 1974
  • Kodak Report: Finances - 1974-1977
  • Kodak Report: Visual Scholars Program, Book I (2 folders) - 1975
  • Kodak Report: Visual Scholars Program, Book II - 1976
  • Box 4:
  • Kodak Report: Report to Eastman Kodak Company (3 folders) - 1976-1980
  • Kodak Report: Outline Report to Eastman Kodak - 1977
  • Kodak Report: Who We Are - 1978
  • Kodak Report: Drafts - 1980
  • Organizational structure - 1978
  • Plan of Study
  • Program goals
  • Search for coordinator - 1978-1979
  • Box 5:
  • Students: CVs
  • Students: Progress reports
  • Students: Recruitment of scholars - 1976-1979
  • Students: Personal statements of intent
  • Visual Literacy Fair - 1973
  • Visual Scholars logo development (2 folders)
  • The Visual Scholars Program: What We Are About - 1978
  • Visual Scholars workshop - 1977
  • Newspaper clippings - 1975-1979
  • Box 5:
  • Course evaluations
  • Film in the classroom, undated
  • Planning and Producing Graphic Communication Materials - 1975
  • Box 6:
  • Connections: Technology and Change - 1979
  • Seminar on Educational Media (2 folders) - 1975-1976
  • Visual Scholars Seminar (4 folders) - 1975-1976
  • Box 7:
  • Visual Scholars Seminar (3 folders) - 1977-1979
  • Special Seminar in Instructional Design and Technology (folder 1) - 1977
  • Box 8:
  • Special Seminar in Instructional Design and Technology (folder 2) - 1977
  • Box 8:
  • Promotion papers - 1973-1975
  • Vitae - 1975
  • "Okoboji Study: The Unstructured Conference as a Vehicle for Leadership Development" - 1974
  • Proposal to Eastman Kodak Co. for Research in Visual Literacy - 1974
  • Teacher Preparation Program - 1975
  • "A Resource List of Information about Media Production" - 1974
  • "International Technology: Issues and Concerns," 20th Annual Summary Report, Lake Okoboji - 1974
  • "A Brief Visit to the U.S.S.R. and Scandinavia," Alida Production: [V355]
  • "A Silver Anniversary Look at Visual Literacy," IVLA: [V356]
  • Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT): "Toward a Theory of Visual Stimuli" - 1976
  • AECT: "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy" - 1981
  • AECT: "Ten Most Wanted List" - 1982
  • AECT: "The Glass Half Empty: The Visual Literacy Collection," undated
  • "The Beginnings of the Metaphor: Visual Literacy," undated - 1980
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Educational Communications and Technology Journal - 1980
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Preliminary outline - 1979
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," First draft with editorial comments - 1979
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," March draft - 1979
  • Box 9:
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Long version - 1979
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," April draft - 1980
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Background information - 1981
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Bibliography
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Cochran notes (2 folders) - 1978-1979
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," Correspondence - 1978-1980
  • "Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy," AECT conference - 1982
  • "Ideas for Discussion," undated
  • "Literacy in a Visual Culture," Iowa Public Library Presentation, undated
  • "Our Global Village: A Bus Trip through Eastern Europe," Part III, Edited Version, undated: [V357]
  • "Proposal: A Teacher Education Program to Prepare Teachers in the Development of Visual Literacy," undated
  • "Rationale for Visual Literacy Activities," Iowa City Community School District - 1975
  • "Systematic Procedures for the Selection of Instructional Methods and Media," Proposal to the Council on Teaching, University of Iowa - 1973
  • "Teacher Education," paper for JVVL Departments, undated
  • "To Touch a Whale," narration and editing by Lida cochran: [V358] - 1985
  • "Visual Education," International Encyclopedia of Curriculum - 1990
  • "Visual Education," The International Encyclopedia of Education - 1980, 1982
  • "Visual Language," undated
  • "Visual Literacy: The Most Basic Skill," undated
  • "Visual Literacy and Reading Comprehension," Ames, Iowa, undated
  • "Visual Literacy and the Study of Cognitive Strategies" - 1980
  • Visual Literacy Survey
  • "Visual/Verbal Language: A New Direction for Research," Iowa Educational Media Association, undated
  • "Visual Vocabulary Continuum," undated
    [overheads located in mapcase]
  • WillowWind School on Video Production - 1981
  • "Visuals Are A Language," undated: [V359]
  • Box 9:
  • Papers series and bibliographies
  • Box 10:
  • Albee, John S.
  • Angle, John
  • Axelrod, Noreen
  • Berley, Steven
  • Debes, John
  • Donnelly, Sarah (6 folders)
  • Duke, Bill
  • Gray, Jerry
  • Hewes, Gordon
  • Box 11:
  • Hardin, Priscilla, Glass Plate Game
  • Herring, Richard
  • Hightower, Paul (3 folders)
  • Jones, Jim
  • Kathleen Kolasch
  • Box 12:
  • Lackmann, John
  • Lutz, Kathryn
  • Molek, Robert (3 folders)
  • Owen, Melanie
  • Paynter, Emily (3 folders)
  • Box 13:
  • Paynter, Emily (3 folders)
  • Randhawa, Bikkar S.
  • Randhawa, Bikkar S., Richard Herring, Kathleen Kolasch, and Robert Molek
  • Ragan, Tillman
  • Rhyne, Janie
  • Richards, Michael
  • Smalheiser, Melanie
  • Sorflaten, Jon (4 folders)
  • Box 14:
  • Sorflaten, Jon (1 folder)
  • Sustik, Joan
  • Whitaker, Janet
  • Younghouse, Paul (1 folder)
  • Box 15:
  • Younghouse, Paul (5 folders)
  • Zurmuehlen, Marilyn
  • Student reference reviews, undated
  • Series 6: PHOTOGRAPHS
  • Sub-Series: Family Photographs
  • Box 16:
  • Weed Family Album - 1918-1939
  • Box 17:
  • Lida Cochran
  • Forever Young: 90th Birthday Party (2 folders) - 2001
  • Lida, Harry, and Dennis (Cochran with husband and son)
  • Dennis Myers (Cochran's son)
  • Phyllis and Dennis Myers wedding album, - 1959
  • Pauline Applegate Myers (Cochran's mother-in-law)
  • Box 18:
  • Mom and Dad's album - 1955-1961
  • Multigenerational album - 1960-1963
  • Fred R. Weed memorial book (Cochran's father) - 1965
  • Mother's family scrapbook - 1917-1939
  • Sub-Series: Professional
  • Box 19:
  • Rodeo and harness racing, Elma, Washington - 1950
  • Studio portraits
  • Washington
  • Sub-Series: Visual Scholars Program
  • Box 19:
  • The Cochran Communication Center - 1994
  • Okoboji conferences
  • Retirement - 1981
  • Students and faculty
  • Unidentified conference
  • Sub-Series:
  • Box 19: Slides
    [shelved in slide collection S-10c and S-10d]
  • General
  • Series 7: BIOGRAPHICAL
  • Box 20:
  • Notes of a conversation with Lida Cochran, including history of Visual Scholars Program - 2002
  • Certificate of birth and marriage, and passports - 1911-1986
  • Elementary, High School Education - 1919-1925
  • University Education - 1934, 1960-1961
  • Diary - 1929-1931
  • Topeka scrapbook - 1934-1938
  • Community involvement - 1938-1992
  • Photography contests - 1948-1954
  • Family correspondence and memoirs - 1948-1973
  • Retirement - 1981
  • Christmas cards - 1987-2006
  • "One of a Kind #32," Iowa City Public Library: [V360] - 1996
  • Lida Cochran's 90th Birthday Celebration: [V361] - 2001
  • Box 21:
  • Theater production: A Golden Bond - 1935
  • Theater production: The Thirty-fourth Star - 1935
  • Theater production: Silent Night - 1938
  • Theater production: Centennial Pageant: The Story of Shawnee Methodist Mission - 1939
  • Theater production: Suspension Bridge, League of Women Voters - 1941
  • Theater production: Father Ocean: An Indian Legend - 1959
  • Theater production: Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), undated
  • Series 8: ARTIFACTS
  • Box 22:
  • Bowling club patches
  • 4-H sewing bag
  • Campfire Girls head band - 1921-1925
  • Photography award ribbons
  • Pins and medallions