Adeline Morrison Swain


"A renaissance woman with a variety of interests, she was recognized nationally for her contributions to scientific knowledge and her efforts for women’s rights and statewide for her artistic talents and religious contributions." —Roger B. Natte, 2000

Adeline Morrison Swain was born in Bath, New Hampshire in 1820. After moving to Fort Dodge following her marriage in 1846, she recognized the lack of cultural opportunities for young women and organized French, English, music, botany, and art classes and a children’s lyceum. In 1869, she organized the first woman’s suffrage meeting in Fort Dodge. During the 1870s she traveled the state, often speaking and accompanying nationally recognized women’s rights leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Amelia Jenks Bloomer. She was active in the National Women’s Congress and National Woman’s Suffrage Association, which elected Swain vice-president for life. She was a regular contributor to the Women’s Tribune. Swain also had expertise in history, theology, and natural sciences. She was a correspondent of the Entomological Commission of the United States Department of Agriculture to study the Colorado grasshopper, which was devastating agriculture in western Iowa during the 1870s. Swain’s accomplishments in the field earned her membership in the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences and she was one of the first women to prepare and read a paper before that body’s national convention. She was active in the Greenback Party because of its support of equal political and legal rights for women and monetary reforms, and was the first woman to run for state office in Iowa. She was a leader in the temperance movement, and as a spiritualist, she advocated equal opportunity for women as religious leaders. Swain died in 1899. She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2000.