"Yes, I was the first woman to graduate from Iowa State in veterinary medicine, and Dr. M. Lois Calhoun graduated the year after I did.  Perhaps neither one of us is a very good judge of how prejudiced people were as far as women in the profession is (sic) concerned.  We went on the assumption that we were medically and scientifically minded and would rather be in veterinary medicine than in human medicine."

Letter from Dr. Margaret Sloss to Mrs. Charles May, 1963 

May the time come when the world will recognize, and accept, in a taken-for-granted sort of way, that it is universally true of women as it's true of men, that regardless of their natural gifts and talents, of their chosen field of interest, or in the triviality or the enormity of their contributions to the field of interest--regardless of all these things and the many others that are too often charged to be differentiating characteristics, all are fundamentally and primarily, only human at heart."

Margaret Sloss

Margaret Sloss


Margaret Wragg Sloss (1901-1979) was born in Cedar Rapids, and moved to Ames with her family.  Thomas Sloss was the Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds for the ISU campus, and their home later became known as Sloss House (the current location of the Women's Center)  Her nickname, "Toot" originated in childhood and stuck with her.  In 1923, she became the first female staff member at the ISU Veterinary College.  She completed her Master's in 1932, and was the first woman to graduate from the Veterinary Medicine Program in 1938.

Among her many positions at Iowa State:

Technician in Veterinary Pathology: 1923-1925; 1927-1929
Assistant/Instructor in Veterinary Pathology: 1929-1943
Assistant Professor: 1943-1958
Associate Professor: 1958-1965
Professor: 1965-1972
Professor Emeritus: 1972-

Dr. Sloss was characterized as hard-working, efficient, strong, helpful, and well-organized.  She organized the Women's Veterinary Medical Association, and taught a course for the wives of veterinary students.  

Dr. Sloss noted, "If the boys in any of my classes ever gave me any trouble, I gave it right back to them."



Dr. Sloss won numerous awards, including designation as one of 100 Women in Careers Formerly Closed to Them (1940, Women's Centennial Congress); Outstanding Woman Veterinarian (1953); ISU's Faculty Citation (1959) and the Stange Award for Meritorious Service (1974).

In 1944, Dr. Sloss received an invitation 
to dine with the President's wife, 
Eleanor Roosevelt.  She did not attend 
this luncheon as she was not allowed
 to leave her duties at Iowa State.


"Science and Women," ca. 1944

A Speech by Dr. Sloss

Perhaps the chief discriminating characteristics which any woman who has made outstanding contributions to the world through science, and her sisters in any and all other fields, are precisely the same as between any man of science and his brothers in other fields of endeavor, namely a more than average endowment of determination, courage, patience, and perseverance.  A flat refusal to know when he or she is defeated, to admit that it is ever time to give up."



A special interest of Margaret Sloss in her earlier years was the theater.  These 2 images show her as an Iowa State student performing in:

VEISHEA performance: Melody Magic, 1923


Senior Class Play: The Tempest, 1923

One of Dr. Sloss' hobbies was wood chipping.  These 3 examples are part of the Artifact Collection in the University Archives.

This exhibit, "20th Century Women of Iowa State, was inspired by this year's 100th anniversary of the birth of Margaret Sloss, the first woman to graduate from Iowa State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.  Not only did Dr. Sloss have a distinguished career in veterinary parasitology, she served as a leader for Campfire Girls, was active in community and church, and was a founding member of the Women's Veterinary Association.  In teaching she taught not only the subject, but the fun of learning as well.

In 1972, the year she retired, she shared her own philosophy with the graduating veterinary class:

"Each man is a unique individual, not even identical twins are wholly alike.  By the Grace of God you are what you are.  Glory in your selfhood, accept yourself, trust yourself, respect yourself.  You have a right to be here and each of us has important work to do.  Never, never indulge yourself in self pity or spend time comparing yourself with others.  What is right for you may not be right for them and vice versa.  Don't stand in your own shadow, get your little self out of the way, so your big self can stride forward."

Introduction / List / ISU HistoryResources / Bibliography

Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State University
Comments: archives@iastate.edu
URL: http://historicexhibits.lib.iastate.edu/20thWomen/revisedSept2005/20thcenturywomen.html