Carrie Champman Catt


"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, probably the most famous Iowan associated with the Women's suffrage movement, was born in 1859 and grew up near Charles City, Iowa. A feminist from her earliest school days, Catt was responsible for creating a Women's physical education program at Iowa State Agricultural College (now ISU), where she graduated in 1880. 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 Woman Suffrage Association. In 1919, she helped found the National League of Women Voters. 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 in 1947. Catt was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1975.

UPDATE: Catt posthumously received the Iowa Award 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 began 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.