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The Blue Book of Iowa Women A History of Contemporary Women

Compiled by Winona Evans Reeves, 1914.

  
 

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Mrs. Maria Purdy Peck

In the memorial to Mrs. Maria Purdy Peck, which was printed by the Iowa Daughters of the American Revolution it was said of her:  "Although winter was on her head, eternal spring was in her heart."  She was born Nov. 16, 1840, in West Butler, N. Y., and died at her home in Davenport, Jany. 2, 1914.  She was educated in a New York seminary.  On Sept. 18, 1865, she was married to Dr. Washington Freeman Peck, who was considered one of the ablest Iowa physicians.  It is said that in a very large measure the credit is due him for the establishment of the Medical Department of the State University.  He was the chief founder of Mercy Hospital in Davenport.  He died Dec. 12, 1891.  One daughter was born to Dr. and Mrs. Peck, Mrs. Jessie Allen Vollmer, who has two children, Henry Vollmer and Dorothea Peck Vollmer.  Mrs. Peck was one of the ablest and most prominent women Iowa has produced.  She was vice-president at large of the International Council of Women and a prominent member of the International Council held in London in 1899.  She read a paper before this council, which is the largest organized body of women in the world.  One of the New York magazines speaking of her said:  "She is a broad-minded western woman who is identified with nearly all the educational, philanthropical and club work of her state, Iowa."  At this conference she was invited to a seat on the platform by Lady Henry Somerset, and she had the honor of being the guest of Queen Victoria at a garden party.  Mrs. Peck was a devoted member of the D. A. R.  She was regent of Hannah Caldwell chapter for fifteen years.  She was State regent of the Iowa D. A. R. and was honored at the State and Continental Congresses.  She was a member of the State Historical Society, of the Mayflower society, of the Daughters of 1812 and of Founders and Patriots.  In 1874 she organized the Clionian Club, one of the oldest Iowa clubs and was its president for years.  She was president of the Biennial Board of the Iowa Federation of Women's Clubs and has served on many state committees, having been especially active on the child labor committee.  She was one of the founders of St. Luke's hospital and was the first president of its Board of Managers.  She helped establish St. Luke's training school for nurses.  She was one of the founders of the public library.  She gave liberal support in money and influence to the maintenance of the Mission Kindergarten.  She organized the Woman's Club of Davenport and was the first president.  She was a writer of ability and contributed to magazines and periodicals.  She was a delightful speaker and was often heard in conventions and conferences and on other public occasions.  She is one of the few American women who had the distinction of having her portrait and name appear in "The Roll of Honor for Women," an annual biographical record of women of the world who have worked for the public good.  This periodical is published in London.  One friend in appreciation of her, summed up her character by saying:

"She was a woman of fine mind, great culture, sound judgment and rare insight into human nature and withal a kind heart and the tenderest womanly instincts.  She was a lover of home, family and friends and though a busy woman in outside affairs, she never strained the silken cord that bound her to her own bright, happy fireside."

 

 

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