A state agency is trying to compile female firsts in Iowa’s history. The Iowa Commission on the Status of women is creating a list of women from Iowa who have or who were first at doing something. Charlotte Nelson, the executive director of the Commission, says they’ve got some statewide data. Joanne Zimmerman was the first woman to be elected Lieutenant Governor of the state. She campaigned around the state and won on her own. Since Zimmerman, there’s been a change in the state constitution so Iowa’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor run together, like the President and Vice President do. Former Governor Terry Branstad chose Joy Corning as his runningmate. Sally Pederson is currently Tom Vilsack’s Lieutenant Governor. The Commission has a list of pioneering women from a variety of fields — ranging from firsts in science to an Iowa native who wrote the first Nancy Drew books. Some of the firsts are just for the state of Iowa and others are firsts for the state and the country. Arabella Mansfield — from Mount Pleasant — was the first female attorney in the state — and the country. She studied for the bar exam with her brother and passed. Others on the list so far are Phyllis Propp Fowle, the first female jag officer in the country; Georgine Morris, the first female state president of the N-A-A-C-P; and Jesse Field Shambaugh, known as the Mother of 4-H. In 1975, the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women began inducting women into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame. Nelson says many of the women who’ve been inducted were first at some endeavor. Nelson says the Commission will soon release its list of “female firsts.” They hope to complete the project by August. To get someone you know on the list, call the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women at 1-800-558-4427.
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