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Cochran, Lida M.



  • Existence: 1911 - 2007


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.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Lida Cochran papers

Identifier: IWA0581

Audiovisual educator and professor in the Education Department at the University of Iowa.

Dates: 1917-2006