Iowa Women's Archives
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa


LIDA COCHRAN (1911-2007)

PAPERS, 1917-2006
8 linear feet


Iowa Women's Archives
100 Main Library
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, Iowa 52242

Phone: 319-335-5068
Fax: 319-335-5900
E-mail the Iowa Women's Archives

Please cite materials from this collection as follows:
Lida Cochran Papers, Iowa Women's Archives, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.


Collection Overview

The papers (donor no. 916) were donated by Lida Cochran in 2003.
The papers are open for research.
Copyright held by the donor has been transferred to The University of Iowa. 
Seven videocassettes (VC355-361) shelved in the videocassette collection.
In Boxes 16-19 and slides in S-10c and S-10d.
Processed by:
Jun-Nicole Matsushita, 2006. [CochranLida.doc]


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 Weed family moved back to Washington, to the small town of Elma, which needed a dentist.  Lida Weed 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 Weed was killed in an auto accident.

In the summer of 1958, Lida Weed 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 Weed 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 Weed 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.

Scope and Content Note

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.

Related Collections

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


Box List

Box 1                  
  Visual Scholars Program, University Of Iowa      
    Visual Literacy Collection: Lida Cochran Papers, Arizona State University Libraries, 2006
Departmental History
      Advisory committee
        Executive committee
          Meeting minutes, 1975-1980 (3 folders)
Curriculum committee, 1978
Dissemination committee, 1978
        Steering committee      
          Meeting minutes, 1975-1977 (2 folders)
Letters of appointment, 1979
Membership list, 1979
Questionnaires, 1979
Box 2                  
          Research concerns and interests, 1977
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, 1978
Annual Conference on Visual Literacy, University of Iowa, 1977
Visual Literacy Conference, 1973
Conference on Data Generation through Visual Media, University of Iowa Visual Scholars Program, 1979
Conference on Visual Learning, Thinking and Communication, University of Iowa Visual Scholars Program, 1976
Miscellaneous, 1975-1988
        Letters of thanks
Lutz, Kathryn
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
Proposal to the Eastman Kodak Company, 1974
Finances, 1974-1977
Visual Scholars Program Book I, 1975 (2 folders)
Visual Scholars Program Book II, 1976
Box 4                  
        Report to Eastman Kodak Company, 1976-1980 (3 folders)
Outline Report to Eastman Kodak, 1977
Kodak Report- Who We Are, 1978
1980 Drafts, 1980
      Organizational structure, 1978
Plan of Study
Program goals
Search for coordinator, 1978-1979
Box 5                  
Progress reports
Recruitment of scholars, 1976-1979
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
    Class Materials      
      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, 1975-1976 (2 folders)
Visual Scholars Seminar
        1975-1976 (4 folders)      
Box 7                  
        1977-1979 (3 folders)
      Special Seminar in Instructional Design and Technology, 1977 (folder 1)
Box 8                  
      Special Seminar in Instructional Design and Technology, 1977 (folder 2)
    Research and Presentations      
      Lida M. Cochran Dossier
        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 shelved in audiocassette collection]
“A Silver Anniversary Look at Visual Literacy,” IVLA [V356 shelved in audiocassette collection]
Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT)
        “Toward a Theory of Visual Stimuli,” 1976
“Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy,” 1981
“Ten Most Wanted List,” 1982
“The Glass Half Empty: The Visual Literacy Collection,” undated
      “The Beginnings of the Metaphor: Visual Literacy,” undated
“Exploring Approaches to Researching Visual Literacy,” Educational Communications and Technology Journal, 1980
        Preliminary outline, 1979
First draft with editorial comments, 1979
March 1979 draft, 1979
Box 9                  
        Long version, 1979
April 1980 draft, 1980
Background information, 1981
Cochran notes, 1978-1979 (2 folders)
Correspondence, 1978-1980
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 shelved in audiocassette collection]
“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, Alida Production © 1985 [V358 shelved in audiocassette collection]
 “Visual Education,” International Encyclopedia of Curriculum, 1990
“Visual Education,” The International Encyclopedia of Education, 1980, 1982
“Visual Languaging,” undated
“Visual Literacy: The Most Basic Skill,” undated
“Visual Literacy and Reading Comprehension,” Ames, Iowa, undated
“Visual Literacy and the Study of Cognitive Strategies: Towards a Theory of Grammatical and Constructivist Rules in Visual Literacy,” 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 shelved in audiocassette collection]
    Research by Others
      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
Box 16                  
    Family Photographs
      Weed Family Album, 1918-1939      
Box 17                  
      Lida Cochran
Forever Young: 90th Birthday Party, 2001 (2 folders)
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, 1965 (Cochran’s father)
Mother’s family scrapbook, 1917-1939
Box 19                  
      Rodeo and harness racing, Elma, Washington, c. 1950
Studio portraits
    Visual Scholars Program      
      The Cochran Communication Center, 1994
Okoboji conferences
Retirement, 1981
Students and faculty
Unidentified conference
    Slides [shelved in slide collection S-10c and S-10d]      
Box 20                  
    Notes of a conversation with Lida Cochran, 2002 [includes her summary of the origins and development of the Visual Scholars Program at the University of Iowa]
Certificate of birth and marriage, and passports, 1911-1986
      Elementary – High School, 1919-1925
University, 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, 1996 [V360 shelved in audiocassette collection]
Lida Cochran’s 90th Birthday Celebration, 2001 [V361 shelved in audiocassette collection]
Box 21                  
    Theater productions
      A Golden Bond, c. 1935
The Thirty-fourth Star, c. 1935
Silent Night, 1938
Centennial Pageant: The Story of Shawnee Methodist Mission, 1939
Suspension Bridge, League of Women Voters, 1941
Father Ocean: An Indian Legend, 1959
Fiat Lux (Let There Be Light), undated
Box 22                  
    Bowling club patches
4-H sewing bag
Campfire Girls head band, c. 1921-1925
Photography award ribbons
Pins and medallions


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