Women's Leader and Pioneer Journalist
Nancy Cantwell was born in Ohio in 1839 to a prominent family. Her father was a colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War and died in the Second Battle of Bull Run.
Nancy married Henry Wallace in 1863 and the couple set out to preach the “social gospel” to communities in the Midwest. She lived her philosophy that a woman’s role was primarily to support her husband and children and to make a pleasant home. But she also promoted the concept of the “New Woman” who engaged in a variety of activities and occupations outside the home.
When Henry switched careers from ministry to journalism, Nancy followed. She edited the “Hearts and Homes” section of Wallaces’ Farmer, owned by her husband and two sons. This section appealed to readers with its discussions of household management, child development, women’s roles, health and nutrition, current events and inspirational material.
Nancy’s work with “Hearts and Homes” included organizing and serving as state president of the Daughters of Ceres farm women’s clubs. She was a charter member of the Des Moines Women’s Club and a founder of the Women’s Press Club. In 1908, she served as an Iowa delegate to the National Federation of Women’s Clubs conference. Nancy died in 1909.