Alice (Bird)

May 8, 1850 - November 21, 1926

Mount Pleasant, Iowa

Pioneer Supporter of Women's Education. She was one of the seven founders of P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization), one of the pioneer societies for women, that was founded on January 21, 1869, at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Today, P.E.O. has grown to almost a quarter of a million members in chapters in the United States and Canada. The P.E.O. Sisterhood, headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, is a philanthropic educational organization that promotes and funds educational opportunities for women. Mary Alice Bird was born in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa the daughter of Dr. Wellington and Sarah Thornton Bird. Along with six friends, (Mary Allen Stafford, Hattie Briggs Bousquet, Franc Roads Elliott, Alice Virginia Coffin, Ella Stewart, and Suela Pearson Penfield), she founded P.E.O. while studying at Iowa Wesleyan. She graduated with an A.B. degree in 1869 and was granted an honorary A.M. degree in 1872. She was invited to fill the chair of Latin and Greek. She was on the faculty teaching Latin, Greek and elocution at Iowa Wesleyan along with her father Dr. Bird, who taught pharmacy and her husband Washington Babb, who taught law. Alice married Washington Irving Babb on October 9, 1873. Her sister-in-law was Arabella Babb Mansfield. Alice and Washington had four children: Max Wellington, Miles Thornton, Clarabelle and Alice.

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