Mary Beaumont Welch


"Mrs. Welch believed ardently in the power of women to make a constructive, creative difference in their world and she gave unstinting efforts in educating women to unleash that power." —Dr. Beverly Crabtree & Dr. Jane Farrell-Beck, 1991

Mary Beaumont Welch promoted the cause of Women's education at Iowa State Agricultural College for over 15 years. Born in 1841 in Lyons, New York, she came to Ames in 1868 when her husband, Adonijah, was appointed the college's first president. In 1871, she initiated a course of lectures on housekeeping. She was an instructor of Domestic Economy, English, and Elocution from 1875 to 1893. After attending cooking schools in New York and London, she established the first of its kind experimental kitchen at ISU. She published an article in the July 1879 issue of The College Quarterly, expounding on the need to honor Women's efforts in the home. "It is hard to give one's life to that which, according to general opinion, is an inferior pursuit." In 1882, Welch began to lecture throughout Iowa on home economics, a precedent for the extension courses that did not begin until 1903. In 1884, she published Mrs. Welch's Cookbook, the first book published in home economics at ISU. In 1888, Welch became president of the Iowa Women Suffrage Association. She proclaimed that women "...claim the absolute and inherent right to guard by vote all laws that affect in any manner the personal virtue of our sex. No man, or body of men, has the right to legislate away my control over myself..." She was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1992.