Ada Hayden's Student Experience at ISC


class photo from yearbook

Ada Hayden Graduation photo from 1908 Bomb.




This section of the online exhibit seeks to reveal Ada Hayden's known experiences while a student at Iowa State (both as an undergraduate and graduate student). One can only speculate how much she knew about world events, such as the world war taking place while she was a doctoral student. Much of the information found here comes from the student yearbooks, the Bomb. Hayden was active as a student, including serving as an officer (secretary) for her class during the 1907-1908 school year. In addition to her experiences on campus, Hayden must have found an escape from busy student life on her parents' property northwest of Ames - most likely relaxing in the open prairie, further solidifying her desire to preserve what remained of Iowa's native prairies. Pictured here is Hayden's photograph from the 1908 Bomb page 38.






collage of two diplomas, one bachelor of science and one PhD

Ada Hayden received her Bachelor of Science degree in botany from Iowa State College in 1908.  After receiving her Master of Science degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1910, Hayden returned to Iowa State for further graduate work. She was the first woman to receive a PhD at Iowa State, graduating with her doctorate in 1918.  In addition, she was among the first graduates to receive a Doctor of Philosophy - the first PhD being awarded in 1916. Image credit for BS.
Image credit for PhD.


Cliolian Literary Society
Ada Hayden was a member of the Cliolian Literary Society, established in 1871 as a women's-only club. Literary societies were one of the earliest student groups on Iowa State's campus, starting in the fall of 1868. The societies offered an opportunity for students to present speeches and debates to fellow members. The image shows the 1907-1908 Cliolian Literary Society from the 1909 Bomb. Hayden is the first on the left in the second row. Image credit for Cliolian Literary Society, page 216.

picture of group of women belonging to Cliolian Club from 1909 Bomb yearbook


classroom with students in a 1906 botany lab in Beardshear Hall

Scrub Faculty
Ada Hayden is listed as being on the "scrub faculty" in the 1908 student yearbook. The "scrub faculty" term referred to students who held "sub-faculty" positions. By her senior year, Hayden was a laboratory instructor for the Department of Botany and General Bacteriology. Along with Hayden, fellow student Gottlieb Bader was also a laboratory instructor for the department that year. Image credit for Scrub Faculty.


Ada Hayden was a member of the 1908 senior-sophomore basketball team, and was awarded a medal by the Women's Athletic Association. Pictured is the Senior-Sophomore basketball team from the 1909 Bomb, Hayden is on the far left. Image credit for Basketball, page 194.

Senior-Sophmore Basketball team image from 1909 Bomb yearbook


portrait of professor

Louis Pammel
In addition to encouraging her to attend Iowa State, Louis Pammel was Ada Hayden's mentor and later colleague at Iowa State for many years.  Image credit for Louis Pammel.


Robert E. Buchanan
Ada Hayden was a student within the botany department when Robert Earle Buchanan (first head of the Graduate College) received his M.S. in botany from Iowa State in 1906. Hayden was a graduate student when Buchanan became the first head of the Bacteriology Department, heading it from 1910 to 1945. The Graduate College was in the process of being formed when Hayden was a doctoral student, and it was established a year after she graduated (in 1919). Pictured here is a 1904 photograph of Buchanan at "Hayden Place" - most likely on the property of Hayden's family. As a small community in the beginning of the 20th century, Hayden probably knew the first head of the Graduate College far better than the existing records reveal. Image credit for Robert E. Buchanan.

Robert Earl Buchanan standing in a field


photo of a two students with Harriette Kellogg and Charlotte King

Harriette Kellogg and Charlotte King
Pictured here are two women with whom Ada Hayden probably worked closely. Harriette Kellogg (far left), curator of the herbarium and botanical library, and Charlotte King (center), assistant professor, artist, and seed analyst, are shown working in an office during Hayden's graduate student years (sometime between 1910 and 1916). Harriette Kellogg died of pneumonia in 1916 - about two years before Ada Hayden completed her PhD.  Ada Hayden would be appointed the herbarium's curator in 1934 and would add more than 18,000 specimens to the collection during her tenure.  Image credit for Kellogg and King.


Botany Department
The Old Main fire of 1902 forced the botany department to be housed in temporary quarters for four years, two of which were during the first half of Hayden's undergraduate career (1904-1906). The temporary headquarters for the department were in Margaret Hall, on the first floor and in part of the annex.  Pictured here is the botany lab in Margaret Hall, 1902-1906. Margaret Hall, located where LeBaron Hall now stands, was the women's dormitory. Image credit for Botany Deparment.

classroom with students in a botany lab in Margaret Hall, undated


classroom with students in a 1911 botany lab in Beardshear Hall

Botany Department
Finished in 1906, Beardshear Hall (then known as the Central Building) would be the botany department's home from 1906 until 1928, when the department moved its headquarters to what became known as Botany Hall (now Catt Hall) in 1928. Pictured here is a botany class in Beardshear Hall, 1911. Image credit for Botany Department at desks.


Faculty offices
Ada Hayden studied under Professor of Botany Louis Pammel during her undergraduate and graduate years. It is therefore very likely that she spent numerous hours in Pammel's office, both as a student and professor at Iowa State. Pictured here is Louis Pammel's office in Central Hall (Beardshear) in 1921. Pammel's office was in Beardshear during Hayden's years as a junior/senior and graduate student. The image shown here was meant to show the crowded conditions in the department. Image credit for Faculty Offices.

picture of professor and gradaute assistant in a faculty office


scan of a page from Iowa State College catalog for coursework for graduate work in science

As an undergraduate, Hayden's coursework was determined by her chosen course of study. With an interest in botany, she most likely pursued the science curriculum beginning her freshman year. Courses would have included algebra, English, German, elocution, drawing, and history. More advanced classes in similar areas were required the sophomore year. By the beginning of their junior year, science students needed to choose a particular science to focus on.1 Although doctoral graduate work had not been completely formalized when Hayden began her graduate work at Iowa State, botany was one of the few departments which offered a graduate program. Pictured here is a page from the 1911-1912 Iowa State College catalog (LD2547 A2 I68x) listing graduate work in science.


When Ada Hayden was a student, the herbarium2 grew from 60,000 specimens3 her freshman year to 90,0004 when she received her PhD. As a student, Hayden would have been able to use a wide variety of the herbarium's specimens from throughout the world including Iowa, the Mississippi Valley, the eastern and western United States, Europe, Africa, Cuba, and South America. Hayden would eventually become curator of the herbarium (1934-1950), adding over 10,000 specimens during her tenure. This image shows the herbarium sometime between 1900 to 1903, probably when it was in its temporary Margaret Hall location after the Main Hall fire of 1900. Image credit for Herbarium.

group of students working in Herbarium, 1900's


page from original field notebook

Parry collection
Louis Pammel arranged for the purchase of the C. C. Parry Historical Collection5 in 1894, which in addition to specimens for the herbarium included Parry's correspondence, field notebooks, and other materials. A resident of Davenport, Iowa, Parry was the first person to hold the position of botanist for the United States Department of Agriculture. He also participated in a variety of early surveys of the western United States. Hayden undoubtedly saw and/or used this important collection when using the collections at Iowa State's herbarium (a herbarium is a plant library containing dried and pressed plants6). The original field notebook can be found in the Charles Christopher Parry papers, MS-290, Iowa State University Library Special Collections and University Archives from Parry's field notebook during his expedition to the Gila. Image credit for Parry collection.


As a graduate student, Ada Hayden was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society at Iowa State, as recorded in the 1917 Bomb (published in 1916). Throughout her career, Hayden would be a member of several honor societies and received additional honors, including being inducted posthumously in 2007 into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. This image shows Hayden in 1923. Image credit for Honors.

portrait of Ada Hayden


photo of Bomb board taken from 1908 Bomb yearbook

Bomb board
The 1908 Bomb might be counted as one of Ada Hayden's multi-author publications, as she served on the "Bomb Board" in 1908. The Bomb Board oversaw the school yearbook's creation. When Hayden was an undergraduate, the junior class would create the yearbook during their junior year - calling it by their senior year (the 1908 yearbook, therefore, covers the years 1906-1907). Hayden is pictured in the front row, fourth from the left, page 20. Image credit for Bomb Board.


Undergraduate illustration
Ada Hayden was an accomplished botanical illustrator, and evidence of her work in this area can be found as an undergraduate. For instance, illustrations she created for her advisor Louis Pammel can be found in his "Flora of Northern Iowa Peat Bogs."7 Pictured here is a signed example of Hayden's beautiful work.

Undergraduate illustration


Bachelor's degree

Bachelor's degree
Ada Hayden received her B.S. in botany from Iowa State in 1908, graduating with honors. Pictured here is Hayden's bachelor's diploma. Image credit for Bachelor's degree.


Ada Hayden received her Ph.D. in 1918, becoming the first woman to receive a Ph.D. at Iowa State. Her dissertation, "The Ecologic Anatomy of Some Plants of a Prairie Province in Central Iowa," was published in the American Journal of Botany in 1919.8 Dated the same year her dissertation was published (1919), pictured here is one of Ada Hayden's hand-colored lantern slides which she probably used in public presentations. The lantern slide is of Helianthus sp. (sunflower). Hayden included sunflowers in her dissertation work. Image creditfor flowers.

Plant Drawing from PhD



  • 1. Required coursework for each year is listed in the Iowa State College catalogs, which can be found in the Special Collections and University Archives.
  • 2. A herbarium is essentially a plant library, containing dried and pressed plants. See the Ada Hayden Herbarium for additional information: 
  • 3. Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Bulletin of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, Catalogue Number March, 1917 (Ames: Iowa, 1904), 264.
  • 4. Iowa State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, Bulletin of the Iowa State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts, Catalogue Number March, 1904 (Ames: Iowa, 1917), 137.
  • 5. For more information, see the Ada Hayden Herbarium's holdings page.
  • 6.
  • 7. Louis H. Pammel. "Flora Northern Iowa Peat Bogs." Iowa Geological Survey Annual Report 19 (1908), 735-778.
  • 8. In addition to the Iowa State University Archives, Ada Hayden's dissertation is available online through JSTOR's Open Access Digital Library.