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First Woman Teacher is Dead

Louisa Reed-Stowell
Regents' Proceedings 302


Intense prejudice against wom
en faculty members is blamed by
 some for an anomalous situation 
in which one of the country's leading microscopists, important enough
 to be listed in Appleton's Cyclopedia
 of American Biography in 1888 and 
later in Who's Who in America, was
 denied official membership on the 
University's faculty. Since the death
 recently of Mrs. Louise Reed Sto
well, one of Michigan's most dis
tinguished woman graduates and 
teachers, it has been discovered that, 
during the twelve years of her ten
ure on the faculty, she was never ac
corded recognition beyond that of
 Assistant in Microscopical Botany.


Because of the fact that Assistants 
are not actually members of the
 
teaching faculty their names are not
 listed in the faculty directory in the Alumni Catalogue
 of the University. And for that reason Mrs. Stowell, 
 who actually taught classes for many years, often was
 among the missing when faculty membership was recognized. 


Besides being Michigan's first woman teacher, Mrs.
 Stowell was really the originator of the activity which 
today is expressed in the Michigan League. In the 
late '70's she inaugurated meetings of the few women 
then on the Campus and frequently was hostess to
 these first co-eds at her home. At a time when women 
had no place on the Campus where they could rest or 
meet in groups, she secured permission for the use of a 
room at the east end of the University Hall main floor
 corridor and furnished the room with a couch and
 chairs from her own home. This rest room is being 
used today by woman students. Agile-minded, a capable 
scientist, and an admirable personality, she was quick 
to become an inspiration to the group. Long after she
 left Ann Arbor in 1889, her name was recalled with 
reverence and respect by those with whom she had
 associated. 


Louise Marie Reed was born in Grand Blanc, Mich
igan, December 23, 1850, the daughter of the distinguished Methodist Minister, Asa Reed, a trustee of
 Albion College. She received her Bachelor of Science
 degree in the Class of 1876, one of the first graduating
 classes in which women were included. The following
 year she was awarded a Master of Science degree 
upon examination. In September 1877, she became 
Assistant in Microscopical Botany, and such she remained officially for twelve years. On July 10, 1878, 
 she was married to Charles Henry Stowell, '72m, who
 at that time was Instructor in the Physiological Lab
oratory and who subsequently became Professor of
 Histology and Microscopy.


In 1889, Mr. and Mrs. Stowell 
went to Washington, D. C. where 
both continued their scientific work, 
she as a research worker in one of 
the principal bureaus of the Federal 
Department of Agriculture, and he 
as special medical practitioner and 
editor of a medical journal. While in
 the Capitol City Mrs. Stowell also
 served as a member of the Board of 
Trustees of the public schools of
 the district and, by presidential ap
pointment, as Trustee of the Girls
 Reform School of the District of 
Columbia. In 1882, she was elected 
to the Microscopical Society of Eng
land and in later years she was admitted to many other scientific or
ganizations of national and interna
tional importance. Her research and
 writings and her identification with
 significant woman's movements brought her prominence and wealth equal to those of her husband. In 
recent years they had resided in Lowell, Massachusetts, 
where Dr. Stowell, until his death in September of
1928, was General Manager and Treasurer of the J. C. 
 Ayer Company, manufacturers of medical supplies. 


Mrs. Stowell died in Tucson, Arizona, on February
 2, shortly after celebrating her eighty-first birthday. In 
compliance with a request in her will, her remains, as
 well as those of her husband who had been interred in
 a cemetery in Lowell, were brought to Ann Arbor for 
burial in the Beal lot in Forest Hill cemetery.