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Jane Boyd

2017 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honoree: Jane Boyd (1869 - 1932)

“Over the course of her work, Jane Boyd expanded the role of women as instigators of social change, out of the home and into the community. She empowered women of diverse cultures and socio-economic status to step up and out of the home to engender social, political and financial change.”
--Written by nominator Dorothy S. Gordon from Cedar Rapids, Iowa in her nomination of Jane Boyd

Picture of Jane BoydPhotograph republished with permission ©2017 The Gazette, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Jane Boyd (1869-1932) was born and raised in Tipton, Iowa. She became certified as a teacher, taught grade school in Iowa and Minnesota. In 1894, she moved to Cedar Rapids, where she worked as an educator and social worker for nearly 40 years until her death in 1932. In the late 1800s, Cedar Rapids was a manufacturing center, with a financial and social chasm between the factory owners and the immigrant families who worked there. Jane was inspired to serve those with the highest need, effecting social changes and community based services that would endure to the present day.

Jane started by supporting the installation of ventilation doors to Tyler School in Cedar Rapids, which was attended by the children of immigrant families. The school had no sewer or ventilation and was an unhealthy, unsanitary environment. The plight of the many immigrant children, brought Jane Boyd into the sphere of social work, as she reached out to hundreds of children and families to help provide necessities such as food and medical attention. There was also a need for cultural and social community support and education, as up to 22 different immigrant cultures were represented in the Oak Hill area of Cedar Rapids and the Tyler School at this time, including freed slaves coming north after the civil war.

In 1918, Jane moved from teaching to devoting her time to social work. Her efforts gathered many diverse families together in a community ministry. Part of the First Christian Church, she was also on the Board of the Missionary Society, the general board, taught Sunday school, and became a deaconess.

From 1918 to 1929, Jane worked as a social worker at Tyler School. She provided hands-on care to the sick children and drew community support for needed medical care and services. She paved the way for the Perkins Law and basic health care through the University of Iowa. In 1921, she founded the Community House in Oak Hill (now Wellington Heights). In 1924, a board was assembled to run the House and this community organization, now the Jane Boyd Organization, has carried on serving thousands of diverse families: women, children, and individuals to improve their quality of life and that of their families, through community services and education.