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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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Mrs. Ada E. North

Mrs. Ada E. North, the first Iowa woman to hold a state office, was the daughter of the Rev. Milo N. Miles, a prominent Congregational minister in this state.  She was educated in the schools of Iowa City,  In 1865 she was married in Des Moines to Maj. George J. North, who was military secretary to Gov. Stone during the Civil War.  In 1870 Maj. North died, leaving his wife with two little children.  She at once began to look for a means to support her little family, and was given a clerical position in the legislature, being one of the first women clerks in the Iowa state house.  In 1871 a vacancy occurred in the office of state librarian and Gov. Merrill appointed Mrs. North to the position, being thus the first woman in Iowa to hold a state office, if not the first woman in the United States to hold a state office.  The state library was in its infancy and had received little attention, the appropriations had been small and it had not been considered a very important department.  Mrs. North, with a real interest in the work, and with a realization that the eyes of the officials were upon her, to see whether or not a woman was capable of administering the duties of a state office, undertook the work with the careful attention to detail, and with the conscientious effort which marks the work of women.  At her suggestion a bill was passed by the 14th general assembly, providing for a board of trustees, consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and the Judges of the Supreme Court.  For eight years she was state librarian, and laid the foundation for our present splendid state library library.  Resigning in 1879 she was for thirteen years librarian of the State University.  She died Jany. 9, 1899.



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