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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. Austin Adams

Mary Newbury Adams was born at Peru, Ind., Oct. 17, 1837.  She came of remarkable lineage, her ancestors for many generations were prominent in public life in New England, five of them were Colonial or State Governors.  Her parents moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in her girlhood days.  Her earliest education was received from her mother;  later she attended the public schools of Cleveland and was graduated form the Emma Willard seminary at Troy, N. Y., when she was only eighteen years old.  A year later she was married to Austin Adams, a remarkably brilliant lawyer, a graduate of Dartmouth and of the Harvard Law School.  The Adams came to Dubuque in 1854.  In 1875 he was elected Judge of the Supreme Court and became Chief Justice in 1880, which office he held for twelve years.  He was a regent of the State University for sixteen years and a Law Lecturer from 1875, to his death, 1n 1890.  He was one of the first Iowa lawyers to urge women to study law.  He was the first chief justice to admit a woman to practice in the Supreme Court of Iowa.  Thus Mrs. Adams in her work for the advancement of women, had a sympathetic supporter in her husband.  She was a charter member of the Association for the Advancement of Women, a member of the Equal Suffrage Association, and one of the pioneer workers in the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs.  She was a student of science and belonged to the National Science Association, the Anthropological Society, and other organizations to promote science and its study.  She was chairman of the historical committee of the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893.  She died at her home in Dubuque, Aug. 5, 1901.



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