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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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Miss Florence A. Armstrong

Miss Florence A. Armstrong, teacher and journalist was born in Indianola, Feby. 12, 1884.  She is the daughter of Sanford Armstrong, a pharmacist, of English descent who was born in Rutland, Vt.  Her mother, Laura Van Pelt Armstrong, was born in Seesbury, Ohio.  Miss Armstrong received the degree A. B. from Simpson College, and studied later in State University of Iowa and in New York City.  She is the granddaughter of Daniel Hoff Van Pelt, and Iowa pioneer of a Dutch family distinguished in Holland for financial aid given to the Dutch government.  From Ohio, D. H. Van Pelt and family came to Iowa in 1852, with his parents, who settled near Mt. Pleasant.  Three years later he removed to Indianola, and built up an estate of fifteen hundred acres of rich agricultural land two and a half miles north of Indianola.  He did much to develop the community, materially and morally, holding various local offices, and contributing heavily to bring in a railroad, to found religious work and to establish and support Simpson College.  This institution six of his eight children attended.

Like all the older Iowa Colleges, Simpson has had a career of heroic struggle.  In 1861, "Old Bluebird," officially known as the "Des Moines Conference Male and Female Seminary," was erected by the citizens of Indianola on the present campus.  In 1867 the seminary was raised to college rank, because of its rapid growth, and named "Simpson Centenary College" in honor of Bishop Matthew Simpson and of the Centennial of American Methodism.  In the same year Indianola raised funds for the erection of a more suitable college building, the present chapel, the oldest building now standing on the campus.  Simpson has had ten presidents, and has grown steadily in usefulness and prestige.  The chief growth of the institution has occurred during the last two incumbencies.  Of the 650 alumni, half have graduated during the last ten years.

Of the literary societies of Simpson, the Zetalethean for women, and the Everett for men, are the oldest (1867).  One of the founders of Zetalethean was Laura E. Van Pelt, mother of Florence Armstrong;  a generation later, Miss Armstrong was a member and a president of the same society.  She was a leader in Y. W. C. A., serving on the cabinet, 1905-06, and as an alumna member served as secretary of the Iowa State College, Ames.  While scholarship and wholesome spiritual development have ever been stressed at Simpson, athletics and social life are prominent.  Miss Armstrong held a high place in scholarship but had time for much interest in basket ball, playing for a season on the champion women's team.  Since receiving her degree in 1906, Miss Armstrong was taught History and German at the Indianola High School, English at Iowa State College;  has been editor since 1910 of The Lyre, the national fraternity magazine of Alpha Chi Omega, and of the two secret magazines of that Fraternity, The Heraeum, and The Argolid;  edited an important work, "The History of the Alpha Chi Omega Fraternity," published in 1911 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fraternity (1910);  has for several years been a feature writer for the Des Moines Sunday Register and Leader.  Alpha Chi Omega (founded 1885, De Pauw University), is made up of liberal and fine arts students, and among its 2200 members are many artists, professional women, and women successful in widely varied walks of life.



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