Mary McDonald Knapp

Honored by:Mary Jean Fowler
Brick location:C:4  map

Mary MacDonald Knapp was a personal friend of Carrie Chapman Catt. It was Carrie Chapman Catt who came across campus to ask Mary MacDonald to join I. C. Sorosis (now Pi Beta Phi Fraternity). Their friendship had begun before that. In later years when Mrs. Catt visited the Iowa State campus she stayed with Mary MacDonald Knapp at the Knapp home on the campus and later on Ash Avenue. Mary MacDonald Knapp was an educated woman in a time when education for women was rare. She graduated from Iowa State in Science and Humanities in 1883, the same year Herman Knapp graduated.

They were married and lived in Woodruff Place, the house located where Welch Hall later stands. Mary MacDonald Knapp firmly believed that it was the duty of the college to educate all Iowans—not just those formally enrolled—to the extent such education was possible. Thus she was helpful in organizing the Extension Service and the WOI radio station as logical extensions of the campus. She taught mathematics and English at Iowa State. Living on campus, married to Herman Knapp (who was Treasurer and Acting President among many other duties) she exerted an active influence on Iowa State. She also actively supported women's organizations which encouraged education and independence for women.

The value of a good education for women as well as for men is a strong legacy which she left our family. All of her four children attended Iowa State and three graduated there. Endless grandchildren graduated there also. Mary MacDonald Knapp was our Grandmother. We are grateful and proud of the heritage she has left us.