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Iowa History Daily: February 20 - Mary Louisa Putnam

Iowa History Daily: On February 20, 1903, Mary Louisa Duncan Putnam passed away. The first female member and president of the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences, Putnam left a legacy represented today in the Putnam Museum and Science Center of Davenport.

Born in 1832, Mary Louisa Putnam moved to Davenport with her family in 1855. In 1863 they built a home called Woodlawn in West Davenport. For more than two decades, Putnam carefully walked the line of 19-th century gender norms while fulfilling her role as mother while also dedicating a great deal of time to the Davenport Academy of Natural Sciences. She raised funds, organized events, and helped to develop the organization's publications. 

Initially joining the organization as the first female member during 1868, Putnam rose to hold the title of president of the academy in 1879. Two years later, her son Duncan passed away, and she spent the rest of her life working to advance the academy in his honor. 

Named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1902, Putnam’s legacy continued to grow until her passing the following year. Leaving a significant amount of money in trust to the organization she dedicated her life to, the organization reorganized as the Davenport Public Museum in 1938 before eventually honoring her memory with a renaming to the Putnam Museum and Science Center. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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