A “pioneer teacher and social worker” in Cedar Rapids was honored a week ago. Jane Boyd, who died 85 years ago, was inducted into the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame last Saturday.
“Jane was born in 1869 and in her short 63 years she made an incredible impact on the Cedar Rapids community, Iowa’s immigrants and impoverished families,” Elizabeth Coonan, co-chair of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women, said.
In 1918, Boyd started a milk program for needy children in Cedar Rapids. In 1921, Boyd established what she called a “model house.” Dorice Ramsey is executive director of the Jane Boyd Community House, the non-profit group that now operates out of five different locations in Cedar Rapids.
“Jane Boyd — born 1869, died 1932 — a pioneer teacher and social worker who knew even in 1921 that when a child comes to your classroom, you need to look beyond the walls of the classroom,” Ramsey said. “You need to look at the home environment and you also need to look at the community.”
Jane Boyd was born and raised in Tipton. She began her teaching career in Cedar Rapids in 1894. Boyd became an advocate for a local school attended by the children of European immigrants and freed slaves who moved north after the Civil War. She lobbied for proper ventilation at the school, better medical care for impoverished children and food for needy families in Cedar Rapids. Margaret O’Bannion has done research on Boyd’s life and portrayed her in a one-act play. She, along with Ramsey, spoke last Saturday at the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame ceremony in West Des Moines.
“Jane Boyd led a selfless life,” O’Bannion said. “Her compassion, unconditional love, commitment to helping those in need and her service to others regardless of race, color, creed or station in life was and is an important part of her legacy.”
Jane Boyd started teaching at the age of 16 in country schools around Tipton. She left a teaching post in Minneapolis and moved to Cedar Rapids for a job as a first grade teacher. Boyd had 64 students in her classroom.