Iowa Heritage Digital Collections
State Library of Iowa

1872-1877, Ada North


1872-1877, Ada North



Ada E. Miles was born in New York in 1841, the daughter of Rev. Milo N. and Mary Miles. In 1865 she married Major George J. North, Governor Stone’s Military Secretary. In 1870 George died, leaving his widow with two small children, Howard and Georgia, to support. North began as a clerk in the Iowa legislature that same year towards the close of the session. A vacancy occurred in the office of State Librarian when John C. Merrill died in Sept. of 1871. Governor Samuel Merrill appointed Mrs. North to that position. She was the first woman to become head of the State Library and “many eyes anxiously watched her administration to see whether a woman would prove competent for the position.” North set about to change the image of the librarian by offering sessions on the use of the catalogs, reference works, and other library aids. With her efforts a bill was passed creating a Library Board of Trustees consisting of the Governor, Secretary of State, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Judges of the Supreme Court. After serving as the State Librarian she was appointed Librarian of the State University in Iowa City where she helped organize the Iowa Library Society (now the Iowa Library Association). She died in Des Moines, Iowa on January 9, 1899. United States Biographical Dictionary and Portrait Gallery of Eminent and Self-Made Men, Iowa Volume, Chicago: American Biographical Publishing, 1878, (Online: “A Study of the Public Library Movement in Iowa.” The Iowa Journal of History and Politics. Jan 1937: 64. Brigham, Johnson. “Mrs. Ada E. North.” Annals of Iowa. Jan 1905: 624-626. 1860 US Federal Census, Town of Geneseo, Henry County, Illinois, p.596, line 18, Milo N. Miles household, (Online: Heritage Quest, 2008)


State Librarians of Iowa 1837 - 2008 Compiled by Karon S. King Library Resource Technician State Library of Iowa 1112 East Grand Avenue Des Moines, Iowa 50319 2008


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State Librarians of Iowa