Julia C. Addington


Julia Addington

"She broke ground for all women office-holders
who came after her..."
--Dr. Thomas Morain, 2007


Julia C. Addington, born in 1829, was the first woman elected to public office in Iowa and may have been the first woman in the United States to be elected to office when, in 1869, she was elected Superintendent of Schools in Mitchell County. She was 40 years old when she was elected on the “Bolters” ticket, a renegade faction of the Republican Party. Because of her gender, the legality of Addington assuming the position came into question. The Iowa Attorney General ruled that there was no reason she could not hold the position of county school superintendent. Even after her election and the ruling by the Iowa attorney general that her election was legal, not all of her colleagues were accepting of her. Prior to her election, she was the “preceptress” at the Cedar Valley Seminary in Osage and taught in Cedar Falls, Waterloo, and Des Moines. Her reputation in the education community was solid. Regardless of whether she was the first woman to hold office in the United States, it is certain that she accepted the call of a political party to run for office in a time when it took courage for women to do so. By accepting the call, she was setting herself up for certain scrutiny and probable scorn. While there is no evidence that Addington was an advocate for women’s suffrage, she was one of many pioneering women in the fight for equal rights for women. Because of ill health, she retired in 1871. She lived and owned property in Stacyville, Iowa. Addington died on September 21, 1875 and is buried in Stacyville. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2010.