Finding Aids to Personal Papers and Special Collections in the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 7151
Cochran, Doris M., (Doris Mabel), 1898-1968
Doris Mable Cochran Papers, circa 1891-1968
Doris Mable Cochran (1898-1968) was born in North Girard, Pennsylvania, and came to Washington, D.C., when her father received a government position. She attended Washington schools and following her graduation from high school, she took a position with the War Department. In November 1919 she was appointed an aide to Dr. Leonhard Stejneger in the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians where she worked until her retirement in April 1968.
While at the War Department and later, while at the National Museum, she attended George Washington University nights, receiving her A.B. and M.S. degrees, both in zoology, in 1920 and 1921. At the same time, she attended classes at the Corcoran Art School and developed her artistic talents, becoming a scientific illustrator not only for her own works, but also for those of her colleagues. She continued her studies in zoology and in 1928 received her M.A. in the field from Johns Hopkins University and her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland in 1933. Her dissertation dealt with the musculature of the blue crab.
At the Smithsonian, she advanced through the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians, becoming assistant curator in 1927, an associate curator in 1942, and curator in 1956. As Stejneger grew older, more of the work of the Division fell to Cochran, and following Stejneger's death in 1943 she became acting head of the Division and supervised the Division alone until 1964 when James A. Peters was appointed associate curator.
Her principal areas of interest were the reptiles and amphibians of Central and South America and of the West Indies, especially Haiti. She made two field trips to the region, in 1935 and 1962-63, where she worked with Adolpho Lutz and his daughter Bertha, noted Brazilian herpetologists. Her major works in this area include The Frogs of Southeastern Brazil (1955) and The Herpetology of Hispaniola (1941). Cochran also traveled to Europe twice, in 1938 and 1951, to study herpetological collections in museums there. In the course of her work, Cochran named nearly 100 new species and 6 new genera.
In addition to her professional work, Cochran published many popular articles and books on herpetology, the most important being Living Amphibians of the World (1961), which has been translated into six languages. She also gave a number of radio talks and speeches on reptiles and amphibians to clubs.
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women's Committee.
The papers of Doris Mable Cochran include manuscripts, notes and data on herpetology; material concerning specimens received by the Division of Reptiles and Amphibians; photographs of reptiles and amphibians; personal material including clippings, photographs and material related to her education and Smithsonian career; personal correspondence and correspondence concerning publications and material on her travels to Europe and South America.
Correspondents include William Louis Abbott (ref.), Spencer F. Baird (ref.), Paul Bartsch (ref.), James E. Benedict (ref.), Marcus Benjamin (ref.), Doris Mable Cochran, Anthony Curtiss, Jackson Philip Darlington, Jr. (ref.), Walter J. Eyerdam (ref.), Charles A. Fraser (ref.), Marston Abbott Frazar (ref.), William More Gabb (ref.), Coleman Jett Goin, Oliver Perry Hay (ref.), William Perry Hay (ref.), John Brooks Henderson, Jr. (ref.), Samuel Frederick Hildebrand (ref.), Howard Atwood Kelly (ref.), Arthur Loveridge (ref.), Adolpho Lutz, Bertha Lutz, Corneles J. Marinkelle (ref.), Frederico Medem (ref.), Maynard Mayo Metcalf (ref.), Gerritt Smith Miller, Jr. (ref.), Hermano Niceforo-Maria (ref.), Lee H. Parish (ref.), Watson M. Perrygo (ref.), James A. Peters, Alexandre Ricord (ref.), Hermann Rolle (ref.), Newton P. Scudder (ref.), Antonio Zeno Shindler, Hugh McCormick Smith (ref.), Leonhard Stejneger, J. R. Tamsitt (ref.), P. E. Vanzolini (ref.), A. E. Vinson (ref.), D. F. Weinland (ref.), Alexander Wetmore, A. C. Younglove.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Cochran, Doris M. (Doris Mable), 1898-1968
- Stejneger, Leonhard, 1851-1943
- Peters, James Arthur, 1922-1972
- Lutz, Adolpho, 1855-1940
- Lutz, Bertha, 1894-1976
- National Museum of Natural History (U.S.). Division of Reptiles and Amphibians
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7151, Doris Mable Cochran Papers