OCTOBER 17, 1837–AUGUST 5, 1901
Mary Newbury Adams was born in Indiana in 1837 but spent most of her adult life in Iowa. She was an activist and public speaker who sought to gain education rights for women. Adams was the daughter of abolitionists and social reformers who believed that men and women should have equal learning opportunities. After receiving an uncommonly advanced education for a woman of that time, she was inspired to start her first of many women’s study clubs in 1868. These clubs met in women’s homes and discussed everything from art and philosophy to history and science.
After attending a women’s suffrage meeting in 1869 that was run by notable activists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, Adams took up the cause of women’s voting rights as well. She believed that if women were to vote, they first needed to be educated so they could make informed decisions for themselves.
After helping to found the Northern Iowa Suffrage Association, Adams continued to travel and lecture about many topics, including women’s rights. In 1893, she was a speaker at the Chicago World’s Fair, one of the biggest cultural events of the century. She died in 1901 at age 63.
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