Ada Hayden

Ada Hayden (1884-1950) was born on August 14, 1884 in Ames, Iowa. She earned a Bachelor of Science (1908) and Doctor of Philosophy (1918) degrees at Iowa State University. Hayden also earned a Master of Science degree (1910) from Washington University in St. Louis. Hayden was the first woman to earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree at Iowa State University.

She was an Instructor (1910-1918) in Botany, an Assistant Professor (1919-1950) of Botany, and named Curator of the Herbarium (1947-1950). Photographing and illustrating plants was a specialty as well. During her time at Iowa State she added more than 40,000 specimens to the herbarium.

In 1988, the Iowa State University herbarium was named the Ada Hayden Herbarium in honor of its former curator. Hayden was an avid conservationist who worked to have natural prairies in the state set aside as preserves. After her death a prairie preserve in Howard County, Iowa, was named the Ada Hayden Prairie Preserve by the Iowa Conservation Commission.

Iowa State Sesquicentennial

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Cyclone Facts and Trivia
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Ada Hayden

Oral Histories


This is a historic exhibit and the information provided within it may be out of date. Please contact the Special Collections and University Archives Department with questions about Iowa State history (


Resources available online

Ada Hayden Papers

RS 13/5/55
University Archives, Iowa State University Library

Ada Hayden (20th Century Women Exhibit)

Twentieth Century Women of Iowa State University Archives, Iowa State University Library

Ada Hayden Herbarium

Ada Hayden Herbarium, Iowa State University