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Virginia Claypool Meredith

1848-1936

Virginia Meredith

Known as the "Queen of American Agriculture" -- a title bestowed upon her in 1890 by the State of Mississippi -- Virginia Claypool Meredith was also known for her achievements in home economics, as a public speaker, and writer.

Meredith was raised on a farm near Connersville, Indiana. Widowed at the age of 33, she became a farm head in her own right, assuming management of her husband's family farm near Cambridge City, Indiana. She gained fame showing his herds and flocks, an uncommon activity for women at the time, and was an advocate for both Indiana agriculture and farm homemakers. Her work drew the attention of Purdue, which in 1889 invited her to be the first speaker at the Farmers' Institute. In 1921, she was appointed the first female member of the Purdue University Board of Trustees, serving on a committee for building the Purdue Memorial Union, among other responsibilities.

Meredith founded the Indiana Federation of Women's Clubs and Indiana's first home economics clubs. Her contributions also extended to the University of Minnesota, where she organized and led the School of Home Economics. Her adopted daughter, Mary Matthews, was the founding head of Purdue's School of Home Economics, which was established in 1926.