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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 Mary Osmond

Miss Mary Osmond, for eighteen years a magazine editor, and for four years a newspaper editor, and one among the first women in Iowa elected to the office of county superintendent of schools, was born near Philadelphia.  She is the daughter of William R. and Ann Samms Osmond, coming when too young to have any memory of it to Iowa.  Miss Osmond lived the life of frontier people, all poor people and all working hard --- laying the foundation for Iowa's prosperity.  In her girlhood she was blessed by having access to books and the best magazines and newspapers;  she read everything, educating herself in a large measure that way, being possessed of a vigorous mind and an insatiable desire to learn.  Her father "entered" a farm at Hoperville in Clarke county, and there was little of primitive farm work that she did not learn.  She attended the Southwestern Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio, for several months and began teaching school.  For several years she taught in the country schools, then in the graded schools of Osceola and Murray.  She was a remarkably successful teacher and was elected on the republican ticket as county superintendent of schools in Clarke county, and held the office for two terms.  She was the first woman to hold the office in that county and among the first elected in the state.  During all those years of teaching she had been writing stories and sketches and news for various periodicals.  At the end of her term of office as superintendent she decided to take up newspaper work as a vocation and became associate editor of the Osceola Sentinel.  She later became sole editor and proprietor of the Osceola Gazette, a paper she started herself and ran for fifteen months when it was merged in the Osceola Sentinel of which she was then half owner.  For three years she was editor of this stiff republican paper.  It was at this time that the editorship of the P. E. O. Record literally "fell into her hands."  She was elected editor without her knowledge at the state P. E. O. convention in 1890.  In 1891 she took the magazine, then in its third year, to Osceola and published it there for three years.  She gave up the work for a few years, but in 1898 became its editor and had charge of it continuously until January, 1914.  During those years she gave all her time to the magazine, having a knowledge of all the details of printing and publishing and having at some time or another done everything on the magazine from writing editorials to inking the roller.  She is a practical newspaper woman with a knowledge far beyond the average man in that business.  While she was editing the P. E. O. magazine, quite unconsciously to herself, she was doing something else --- she was making friends in that great sisterhood of splendid women until today she has a circle of friends as wide as this nation.  When she resigned as editor of the magazine the sisterhood in appreciation gave her a check for five hundred dollars and made her a life member of the national convention and of the Iowa convention.  She belongs to the Iowa Press and Author's Club of Des Moines, to the Research Club of Osceola, and to the P. E. O. sisterhood.  She is a member of the Christian church.  For years she has believed sincerely in equal suffrage and has advocated the justice of its principles.  Born of a race of abolitionists and war-haters, her sympathies inherited, seem to have turned to the love of animals, and no cause is nearer her heart than the humane treatment of animals.



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