Ada Hayden


Ada Hayden (1884-1950) was born on August 14, 1884 in Ames, Iowa. She earned a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D degrees at Iowa State University. She also earned an M.S. from Washington University in St. Louis. Hayden was the first woman to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Iowa State University. She was an Instructor in Botany from 1910-1918, an Assistant Professor of Botany from 1919-1950, and was named Curator of the Herbarium in 1947. 

Ada's Work with Iowa Prairies

"The prairie itself has intrinsic merits aside from its bearing with reference to crop insurance. It presents a colorful display of flowering plants throughout the growing season; it is the potential source of economic plants whose uses have not yet been explored. It affords opportunity for the study of the life histories of animals, the knowledge of which has a practical bearing upon their integration with the agricultural environment. It serves as a standard of reference for landscaping, it constitutes type specimens of the native vegetation and soil associations, and provides living examples of the fauna and flora which are indispensable in educational work."

The Ada Hayden Herbarium

During her time at Iowa State she added more than 40,000 specimens to the herbarium. In 1988 the herbarium was named the Ada Hayden Herbarium in honor of its former curator.




Hayden Prairie (Howard County, Iowa)

After her death a prairie preserve in Howard County, Iowa, was named the Ada Hayden Prairie Preserve by the Iowa Conservation Commission.

The Iowa Rose
By Ada Hayden

Beyond the Mississippi
Where the slow Missouri flows,
In the land of the Des Moines River
There blooms the Iowa Rose;
Not in the early springtime,
Not when the gold leaves fall,
But the summer's radiant sunshine
The rose from the rosebud calls.

See also: Radio Broadcast Interview of Ada Hayden; Martha's Afternoon Program (WOI)--July 3, 1946

Research and Interests

Works by Ada Hayden:

The algal flora of the Missouri Botanical Garden (1910) (Special Collections C X H324a)

(Co-author) The weed flora of Iowa. Des Moines: Iowa Geological Survey, 1913. (SB612.I8 P19w)

The Prairie Project

The Rose

Other Sources for Information--Secondary Sources in the Iowa State University Library

Botany and Plant Science-History

Evans, Howard Ensign. Pioneer naturalists: the discovery and naming of North American plants and animals. New York: Holt, 1993. (QH26 .E77 1993)

Historical perspectives in plant science. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1994. (SB123 .H57 1994)

Keeney, Elizabeth. The botanizers: amateur scientists in nineteenth century America. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1992. (QK46.5.B66 K44 1992)

Nilsson, Karen. A wild flower by any other name: sketches of pioneer naturalists who named our western plants. Yosemite National Park, CA: Yosemite Association, 1994. (QK26 .N67 1994)

Overfield, Richard A. Science with practice: Charles E. Bessey and the maturing of American botany. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1993. (QK31.B516 O84 1993)

Prairie Study

Bogue, Allan G. From prairie to corn belt: farming on the Illinois and Iowa prairies in the nineteenth century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963. (HD1773.A3 B634f)

Christiansen, Paul A. Establishment of prairie species in Iowa by seeding and transplanting. 1967. (QK938.P7 C462e)

Cordier, Mary Hurlbut. Schoolwomen of the prairies and plains: personal narratives from Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska, 1860s-1920s. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1992. (LB2837 .C66 1992)

Tobey, Richard. Saving the prairies: the life cycle of the founding school of American plant ecology, 1895-1955. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. (QK901.T6)

Women in Botany

Glater, Ruth Ann. Slam the door gently: the making and unmaking of a female scientist. Santa Barbara: Fithian Press, 1997. (QK31. G58 A3 1997)

Shteir, Ann B. Cultivating women, cultivating science: Flora's daughters and botany in England, 1760-1860. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University, 1996. (QK21. G7 S57 1996)

Links to Related Sites

Iowa State University

Ada Hayden Papers-Archives of Women in Science and Engineering, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library
Department of Botany
Iowa Lakeside Laboratory



Introduction / List / ISU HistoryResources / Bibliography

Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State University