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Carrie Chapman Catt

1975 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree:  Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947)

"If historians are asked who are the most significant of Iowa State University’s alumni, three names surface: George Washington Carver, Henry A. Wallace, and Carrie Chapman Catt.”
—Marsha Readhead, 1989

Carrie Chapman Catt

Carrie Chapman Catt, probably the most famous Iowan associated with the Women's suffrage movement, was born on January 9, 1859 in Ripon, Wisconsin and as a child later moved to a farm near Charles City, Iowa, where she grew up. A feminist from her earliest school days, Catt was responsible for creating a Women's physical education program at Iowa State Agricultural College (now Iowa State University or ISU), where she graduated in 1880 as the only woman in her graduating class. Though she did not become fully involved in the Women's movement until 1885, in 1900 she succeeded Susan B. Anthony as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In 1919, she proposed the development of the National League of Women Voters, and in 1920, six months before the 19th amendment was ratified, the National League of Women Voters was officially formed. After Catt left Iowa, she continued to help women in their unsuccessful struggle to amend the Iowa Constitution to allow women to vote, long before the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, seeing through her efforts until finally the 19th Amendment was ratified. Catt died on March 9, 1947 at her home in New Rochelle, New York. Catt was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975.

UPDATE: Catt posthumously received the Iowa Award from the Iowa Centennial Memorial Foundation in 1992. In 1991, the National 19th Amendment Society formed to purchase, restore, and maintain Catt's girlhood home in Charles City, Iowa. The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University was established in 1992, serving as a living memorial of her leadership on feminist and political issues. The center is now located in Catt Hall, the old, renovated botany building on the ISU campus.