Rowena Edson Stevens

Lived:April 25, 1852—October 18, 1918 (aged 66)

Rowena Edson Stevens was born on April 25, 1852, near Columbus, Wisconsin. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State College (now Iowa State University) in 1873, a member of Iowa's State first graduating class. She taught school in Iowa and Nebraska from 1873 to 1876, then married John Stevens, a 1872 graduate of Iowa State. The Stevens family lived in Ames from 1876 to 1893, then moved to Boone, Iowa.

Stevens was a strong supporter of women's suffrage. She served as president of the Political Equality Club in Ames and Boone, and organized chapters in other cities. She held several offices in the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, including president. In 1894, as president of the IESA, she addressed the Iowa Legislature on behalf of the suffragist movement.

As president of the Boone Equality Club, Stevens organized one of the first woman suffrage parades in the United States and the only one in Iowa in Boone in 1908. She was honored by the League of Women Voters in 1931 as one of the 24 “women in Iowa whose courageous work opened the opportunities of complete citizenship to all women in the state.”

Stevens also founded and supported several charitable organizations. She was president of the Benevolent Society in Ames for 12 years, a Worthy Matron of the Order of Eastern Star in Ames, state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and on the board of the first hospital in Boone.

Stevens died on October 18, 1918. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1996, her granddaughter, Katherine Annin, established the Katherine Bruntlett Annin Legacy of Heroines scholarship at Iowa State’s Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics.

Sources:

“Rowena Edson Stevens.” 2017. Ames Public Library. Accessed August 1. http://www.amespubliclibrary.org/farwell/publication/Pub17147.htm

“Rowena Edson Stevens.” 2017. Iowa Department of Human Rights. Accessed August 1. https://humanrights.iowa.gov/rowena-edson-stevens