Amelia Jenks Bloomer


"She seems to be the only woman in Iowa to publicly espouse Women's rights in the years before the Civil War." — Louise R. Noun, Strong-Minded Women, 1969

Amelia Jenks Bloomer will always be remembered as the popularizer of bloomers, the reform dress costume worn by Women's rights advocates in the mid-1800s. Though she did not create the practical costume—a short dress and trousers—she wrote about it frequently in her Seneca Falls, New York, newspaper, The Lily. Born in New York in 1818, Bloomer moved to Council Bluffs, Iowa in 1855 and soon began a single-handed Women's rights campaign. She gained fame and respect throughout Iowa because of her public championship of Women's rights, a courageous step few other advocates of the cause took in the years before the Civil War. Bloomer helped found the Iowa Woman Suffrage Association and was elected president in 1871 at the first annual convention in Des Moines. She died in 1894. Bloomer was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975.