The Mary Rudd Cochran papers primarily consist of biographical files, correspondence, financial and property files, professional records, writings files, and photographs. Though the papers cover many activities of her life, the collection mainly documents her private life as a member of an educated, upper middle class family. Her personal files detail life as a child and into adulthood, which focuses much on the Cochran family and their interactions with two other great families of Oberlin, the Coxes and the Allens. Although her recollections of life in the Cochran family is interesting, her activities as a supporter of the advancement of women in society are also important. The collection provides a glimpse into the functioning of women's organizations in the early 20th century, their aims and goals, and in the manner by which educated female members became informed public citizens. Despite the rich variety of source materials, the Mary Rudd Cochran papers contain distinct gaps. Very little material exists documenting her career as a librarian, as well as her direct involvement with organizations promoting women's issues and world peace, including the Clermont County League of Women Voters and the Cincinnati Council of World Affairs. These records were donated to their respective institutions by Mary Rudd Cochran. Fortunately, her activities with the Cincinnati chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Club are documented in the collection.
The Mary Rudd Cochran papers is separated into ten records series. The first two series deal with Cochran's own personal life and background. Series I contains autobiographical drafts and notes in an attempt to write her life story. Cochran's autobiography, which was started from a suggestion by a friend in the early 1970s, remained unfinished until 1996. Cochran's niece, Ellen MacDaniels Speers, completed the work by creating the 29 page word processing document included in the collection. Topics covered in the autobiography include her activities as a child and young adult in Mt. Auburn and Oberlin. The autobiographical account is textured with passages explaining the rich family history of the Cochrans, as well as anecdotes of the Cox, Cochran, and Allen families living in Mt. Auburn. Series II consists of biographical materials and vital records. Genealogy charts and correspondence offer an easy guide to the Cochran family tree, as well as a source for family stories. A clippings file, dating from the 1920s to the 1980s, provides an excellent source of biographical material that track Cochran's career as a librarian, as a member of the Cincinnati Business and Professional Women's Club, and her life and views as she approached 100 years of age. Other important documents of Series II include a 1946 copy of her birth certificate, Cochran's 1976 last will and testament, and six passports dating back to the 1920s. Also included is a copy of the 1900 census describing the Cochran household in Mt. Auburn.
Series III contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Cochran, spanning ninety years. Outgoing correspondence, dating between 1892 and 1980 (bulk before 1930), primarily contains letters to family members, especially her parents. The correspondence provides an interesting account of her travels to Europe in 1907 (May-July) and 1928 (which were integrated into existing correspondence files), as well as a glimpse into her daily life in Cleveland during the first World War and the Roaring Twenties. Included in Series III are a large number of incoming letters, which are separated into two filing units. The first filing unit contains 209 incoming letters from the Cochran family and extended family members. Correspondents include father William C. Cochran (20 items, 1893-1925), brother William S. Cochran (21 items, 1903-1963), grandmother Helen Finney Cochran Cox (6 items, 1898, 1904-1905), and aunt Hope Cox Pope (12 items, 1894-1936). The second filing unit contains all other incoming mail (1907-1982). Series IV contains files relating to Cochran's finances and provides an additional window to view as a member of the educated, upper middle class. Account books, dated from 1905 to 1975, minutely detail Cochran's personal expenses, investments, and real estate. These files reveal that Cochran often contributed to Oberlin College and the Shansi Memorial Association, as well as other numerous charities. Property files, mostly dating between 1940 and 1965, document the sale of property in Mt. Auburn and New Richmond and purchase of a cottage in Monroe, Ohio, in 1962. Other materials included in Series IV is the 1988 correspondence from the owner of the Cox property in Mt. Auburn seeking assistance from Cochran's nieces in refurbishing the home.
Series V documents Cochran's professional experiences as a librarian, as well as Cochran's personal and professional writings. Included here are Cochran's annual reports (1931, 1933, 1935) of the reference department at the Cincinnati Public Library. Not only are the reports the only materials in the collection that deal directly with Cochran's forty-year career as a librarian, but provides a glimpse of the work environment at the Cincinnati Public Library during the Great Depression. Other files include materials relating to Cochran's interest in the study and improvement of the state's correctional institutions' libraries. Her work as chair of the Ohio Library Association Committee on Libraries in State Institutions and its successor, the Committee on Institutional Libraries (dating from 1945 to 1962), is here, including her written findings and recommendations. Unfortunately, no material documents Cochran's activities at the Ohio Library Association or the American Library Association. Series V also contains writings of Mary Rudd Cochran, including a report (1945) and two articles (1918 and 1961) regarding correctional institutions' libraries, as well as a 1929 article on special collections that appeared in Library Journal. Also included in the writings file is a 1956 history of the Cranston Memorial Presbyterian Church in New Richmond, Ohio, and a 1965 newspaper editorial describing the events that led to the creation of the Clermont County League of Women Voters.
Series VI reveals Cochran's involvement in the promotion of women's issues during the early decades of the 20th century. She took an active role in both the Cleveland and Cincinnati chapters of the Business and Professional Women's Club. Though no material survived documenting Cochran's participation with the Cleveland chapter, a great deal exists from her time in Cincinnati. Cochran actively sought to educate women and to promote their equal participation in American society by producing two radio scripts (1929 and 1942), writing a play (n.d.), and winning a 1925 contest for her essay "Five Reasons Why I Like To Work For Women." A small number of related files exist, mainly dating in the 1930s and 1940s, that include a 1938 annual report of the president written by Cochran, various organizational programs and publications (1939-1981) and a clippings file (early 1940s) describing the club's wartime activities.
Series VII documents Cochran's long involvement with her graduating class, Oberlin College, '03. Included here is an undated necrology containing obituaries and other biographical materials of some of her Oberlin classmates, as well as correspondence (1936-1973) with former classmates, and as class president. Contained in Series VIII are files relating to Cochran's trips to Europe (1962, 1964), South America (1946-1948, 1957), and Mexico (1930; with the Business and Professional Women's Club). Documents include a short travel diary kept by Cochran during her 1964 trip to northern Europe and a 1937 seven-page account written by a travel companion of a trip through the northeast United States and Canada.
Series IX consists of miscellaneous files relating to Mary Rudd Cochran. Notable documents of Series IX include letters of congratulation on her 100th birthday, dated 1981, class notes (c. 1900s) of a library course taken at Oberlin College, and a file documenting the process of sponsoring a family to immigrate to the United States. Also included here is a large collection of published materials (1910s-1970s), which include the 1945 charter of the United Nations, travel brochures (n.d.), the constitution of Ohio, and 1963, 1973, and 1975 issues of The National Voter, showing Cochran's attempts to keep herself informed of current events and the American political process. Series X contains a wide variety of photographs, many from New Richmond, Ohio, that depict the area before, during, and after the building of her home in 1949-1950. Other photographs include twelve images (1882-1981) of Cochran, as well as fifteen images (1883-1964) of Cochran in group poses. A small number of photographs document Mt. Auburn, Ohio, during the 1937 flood and during the early 1950s, which were taken as part of Cochran's research of her hometown.
Series I. Autobiographical Files, 1973-1996 (0.1 l.f.)
Contains handwritten drafts and notes (1970s) from Cochran in an attempt to write an autobiography. In 1996, Ellen MacDaniels Speers pulled together the drafts and finished the autobiography, which is included.
Series II. Biographical and Vital Records Files, 1905-1974 (0.4 l.f.)
This series is separated into two filing units and then organized alphabetically, there under chronologically: biographical files, 1905-1974; and, vital records files, 1900-1982. Present are a wide assortment of documents, such as a birth certificate (1946), last will and testament (1976), genealogical charts, notes, and correspondence (1905-1967), passports (1920s-1960s), and a clippings file on articles written about Cochran (1920s, 1960s-1980s).
Series III. Correspondence Files (Incoming and Outgoing) (0.6 l.f.)
These documents, as bundled and received, are separated into four filing units: correspondence (outgoing), 1892-1980, six folders; correspondence (incoming) from the Cochran family and extended family, 1893-1980, 209 items; correspondence (incoming), 1907-1982, three folders; and, correspondence (incoming and outgoing), 1967-1975. Most correspondents were family members, including 20 letters (1893-1925) from father William C. Cochran, twelve items (1894-1936) from aunt Hope Cox Pope, and 26 letters (1942-1976) from cousin Elizabeth Allen Titus. Also included here is correspondence from the Austrian Bardella family that documents Cochran's efforts to sponsor them to immigrate from China and their friendship after moving to the United States. Files are arranged alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.
Series IV. Financial and Property Files, 1905-1988 (0.6 l.f.)
This series contains files relating to the finances of Cochran and are separated into two filing units: financial files, 1905-1975; and, property files, 1940-1988. The financial files consist almost entirely of monthly entries into account books (1905-1975) detailing day-to-day expenses and includes two account books describing investment and real estate holdings. Property files contain contracts purchasing and selling property in Mt. Auburn, New Richmond, and Monroe, Ohio, as well as an appraisal (c. 1960s) and listings, dating in the 1950s and 1970s, of personal property for distribution purposes. A small amount of correspondence (1930-1988) and a map of the Mt. Auburn property (1940?) also exists. Material is organized alphabetically under filing units and thereunder chronologically.
Series V. Committee Reports and Writings Files, 1918-1965 (0.2 l.f.)
Consists of two filing units, organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically: reports and committee files, 1931-1962; and, writing files, 1918-1965. The first filing unit contains mostly materials relating to Cochran's work on the Ohio Library Association Committee on Libraries in State Institutions (1945-1962), as well as three annual reports as head of the reference department at the Cincinnati Public Library. The writing files mainly consists of manuscripts written about library topics but also includes a 1956 church history and a 1965 newspaper editorial detailing the formation of the Clermont County League of Women Voters. Series VI contains other writings by Cochran.
Series VI. Files Relating to the Business and Professional Women's Club (Cincinnati), 1925-1981 (0.2 l.f.)
This series is separated into three filing units: correspondence, 1941-1977; organizational files, 1931-1981; and, writings file, 1925-1942. The writing files include a play (n.d.), two radio scripts (1929, 1942), and two 1930 accounts of a trip to Mexico with the Cincinnati chapter. Other files in this series are a 1938 president's report written by Cochran, clippings (1940s), and programs and publications (1939-1981). Files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.
Series VII. Oberlin College Class of 1903 Files, 1936-1975 (0.2 l.f.)
Contains a small amount of material relating to the graduating Oberlin College class of 1903. Correspondence (incoming and outgoing), dated between 1936 and 1975 with former classmates and as class president, a necrology (n.d.), and lists of (1975) documenting financial contributions of graduates, are present. Files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.
Series VIII. Travel Files, 1930-1964 (0.2 l.f.)
Consists of materials related to Cochran's travels to Europe, Mexico, South America, and the United States and Canada. Included is an undated collection of postcards (two which list places visited in Europe in 1907 and 1928), as well as a travel diary from a 1964 trip to Europe and a 1937 written account (by Cochran's traveling companion) through the northeast United States and Canada. Files are organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically.
Series IX. Miscellaneous Files, 1900-1981 (1.5 l.f.)
This series contains files relating to Cochran's church, retirement home, birthdays, and other personal materials. Important material, which is organized alphabetically and thereunder chronologically, include a file (1947, 1951) detailing Cochran's efforts to sponsor an immigrant family to come to the United States, and bibliographic notes (n.d.) containing titles of books Cochran was interested in reading. Five folders comprising of publications collected by Cochran (1910s-1970s) discuss travel, history, politics, government, and libraries.
Series X. Photograph Files, 1882-1981 (0.2 l.f.)
Comprises of photographs of Cochran, her property and home in New Richmond, Ohio, and Mt. Auburn. Twelve images follow Cochran's life as a child to an adult that include photographs from her 100th birthday, as well as fifteen images showing Cochran in group snapshots. Other photographs include a file on New Richmond before the building of her home (1932-1934), during the building (1949-1950), and after (c. 1950s).
The Mary Rudd Cochran papers were received in two accession in 1995 and 1996 from Ellen MacDaniels Speers and Carolyn MacDaniels Miller. During the 1997 revision of the William C. Cochran papers (30/8), a small amount of letters from Helen Finney Cochran (sister), William S. Cochran (brother), and Hope Cox Pope (aunt) to Mary Rudd Cochran were removed and placed in this new collection. Recent acquisitions from Speers and Miller were separated from the larger papers donation and added to the George Nelson Allen Papers (30/67), William C. Cochran (30/8), and Jacob Dolson Cox (30/3), as well as the creation of a new collection, the Mr. and Mrs. Laurence MacDaniels Papers (30/276).
Additional material regarding Mary Rudd Cochran may be found in the following institutional papers: Papers of President Ernest Hatch Wilkins (2/7); College General (0); Alumni Association (20); Alumni Records (28); American Association of University Women (AAUW), Records, 1914-1982 (31/6/21); and, Oberlin Historical and Improvement Organization, Records, 1903-1990 (31/9). Personal paper groups containing material relating to Cochran and the Cochran family include: William C. Cochran (30/8); George Nelson Allen Family Papers (30/67); and, Mr. and Mrs. Laurence MacDaniels (30/276).
Oberlin College Archives. Record Group 0. Class Files.
Oberlin College Archives. Record Group 27. Book 20, p. 494.
Oberlin College Archives. Record Group 28. Mary Rudd Cochran, Alumni File.
Ryckman, Marie. "Her Faith Soars High For World Peace." Dayton Journal Herald, 21 October 1968.