Review committee delves into Catt files

Members of the committee reviewing requests to rename Catt Hall have been taking an in-depth look at Carrie Chapman Catt and the suffrage movement she helped lead.

The resources for the committee come from History Associates Inc., the Maryland-based research firm hired last spring to help committee members learn more about Catt's beliefs and activities, and about comments that led to requests to remove her name from Catt Hall. An 1880 Iowa State alumna, Catt was one of the national suffrage leaders who waged a decades-long campaign that culminated in ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, which gave women the right to vote.

Over the summer, History Associates Inc., historians assembled more than 200 files about Catt and the suffrage movement from extensive collections and repositories throughout the country. The materials were provided to committee members last month.

The 17-member committee, appointed in March by President Wendy Wintersteen, will review the materials as one step in the university's Consideration of Removing Names from University Property policy.

"We have an excellent committee that is diligently assessing multi-faceted historical issues, and will continue to work its way through the steps outlined in the policy and procedures to arrive at a draft recommendation on whether Catt's name should be removed," said Carol Faber, committee chair, associate professor of graphic design and past president of Faculty Senate.

Next steps

The review committee has met virtually several times, with the pace picking up this fall. Faber outlined next steps in the review process:

  • The committee will draw on expertise of faculty, staff, alumni, experts and others familiar with Catt.
  • The committee will provide opportunity for requestors, designees linked to the honoree and representatives of university departments or units impacted by the decision to meet with committee members.
  • The committee will determine whether any legal or contractual implications would arise from removing Catt's name.

Later steps for the review committee involve preparing a draft report outlining its recommendation that will be made available for public comment. The committee also will invite comments on its draft report from those who petitioned for the renaming and from university units and other stakeholders impacted by the decision.

After receiving comments, the review committee will submit a final report and recommendation to Wintersteen.