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Iowa History Daily: October 28 - Janette Stevenson Murray

Iowa History Daily: On October 28, 1874, Janette Stevenson Murray was born in Traer. The pioneering educator, suffragist, author and activist even won “Mother of the Year” from the American Mothers’ Committee of the Golden Rule Foundation. A glass-ceiling shattering Iowa woman, Murray embodied the changing societal role of women during her lifetime.

The daughter of Scottish immigrants who settled in rural Tama County, Stevenson spent her earliest years of education in Iowa country schools before graduating from Traer High School during the late early 1890s. In 1896, she graduated from Coe College in Cedar Rapids and headed out west to spend a few years teaching in South Dakota and Nebraska before rising to the role of principal.

After leaving teaching to pursue graduate studies at the University of Chicago, Stevenson returned to Iowa and married Dr. Frederick Gray Murray. Both Kohawks, the Murrays produced five children who all went on to graduate from Coe. While raising a family, Janette Lindsay Stevenson started campaigning for suffrage equality. She also worked in important roles with the State University of Iowa’s Child Welfare Research Station and the Parent Teacher Association.

An avid and talented writer, Janette Stevenson Murray consistently wrote during her lifetime. A columnist for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, she also wrote many important pieces distributed at regional and national levels. With her husband, Stevenson Murray authored several books including “The Story of Cedar Rapids,” “Jennie Iowa Berry and the First-Seventy-five Years of Women’s Organizations,” “They Came to Tama: An Authentic Story of Two Families from Scotland Who Pioneered in Iowa,” as well as others. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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