Rowena Edson Stevens


"She possessed an analytic mind that could dissect false argument and show up its inconsistencies. She saw, as if by intuition, where error had been given the semblance of truth and she knew how to hit it and hit it hard."
—Dean E. W. Stanton, The Alumnus, May 1918

Rowena Edson Stevens, born near Columbus, Wisconsin in 1852, graduated from Iowa State College in its second class. She taught school in Iowa and Nebraska. In 1876, she married John Stevens, a graduate of Iowa State College’s first class. The family lived in Ames and later in Boone. Stevens became socially and politically active, founding and supporting charitable organizations, as well as playing a prominent role in the struggle for woman suffrage. She organized the Political Equality Club in Ames, serving as its president. She also served as president of the Boone Equality Club and organized chapters in other cities. Stevens was president of the Benevolent Society in Ames for 12 years, Worthy Matron of the Order of Eastern Star in Ames, state Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and on the board of the first hospital in Boone. She held various offices in the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, including president in 1894, in which capacity she addressed the Iowa Legislature on behalf of the suffragist movement. As president of the Boone Equality Club, Stevens organized the first woman suffrage parade in the United States for the annual convention of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association in Boone in 1908. Stevens was honored by the League of Women Voters in 1931 as one of the 24 “women in Iowa whose courageous work opened the opportunities of complete citizenship to all women in the state.” Stevens died in 1918. Stevens was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1995.