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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.


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Iowa is proud to claim "The Sunshine Lady," Mrs. Cynthia Westover Alden, President General of the International Sunshine Society.  Born in Afton in 1862, the daughter of Oliver S. and Lucinda Lewis Westover.  When a child her parents moved to Colorado.  She was graduated in the first class of the State University at Boulder.  For years she was one of the best known newspaper women in the United States, one of the few holding the degree Master of Literature.  While she was one of the editors of the Daily New York Recorder, she organized half in jest, "The Sunshine Society" among those connected with that publication.  There were eighteen who promised "To do the thing that was needed whenever it was needed, whether it was a little or a big one," and to pass on any article in their possession, not needed, but might be of use to another.  There are now over 3000 organized branches with 300,000 members.  Head-quarters are at 96 Fifth Ave., New York.  With the growth of the society Mrs. Alden gave up her newspaper work and with it a yearly salary of $5,000.  For ten years she was on the staff of the Ladies Home Journal and through it made the sunshine Society known to the world.  The society has done every sort of work imaginable -- founded schools, playgrounds, nurseries, clothed the naked, helped the sick, buried the dead.  Mrs. Alden thinks their greatest work is the homes established for blind babies and the campaign to prevent infant blindness.  This work was inaugurated by them and is now far reaching in its scope.  No letter from a troubled heart -- rich or poor -- ever failed to receive a reply from the Sunshine Lady.


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