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Pownall, Dorothy Ashby, 1895-1979



  • Existence: 1895 - 1979


Dorothy Ashby Pownall was born June 20, 1895, in Superior, Wisconsin to George and Harriet Clark Ashby. She graduated from Central High School in Superior in 1912 and attended Lawrence College in Appleton from 1913 to 1915. Her college years were cut short due to the death of her father in 1915. Forced to leave college and go out on her own, she was fortunate in securing a job with the St. Paul Daily News at a time when women reporters were few. Pownall worked for the St. Paul Daily News from 1915 to 1917. She was hired as a feature writer for the Des Moines Capital in 1917. During World War I, she was assigned to report the human interest side of the 88th Division of the National Army at Camp Dodge, the cantonment near Des Moines. Pownall was the only girl reporter covering Camp Dodge from its opening in 1917 until it was demobilized in 1919.

In 1918 she married Fred M. Pownall, who was telegraph editor of the same paper. She continued working for the Des Moines Capital until the birth their first child in 1920. The Pownalls had two daughters, Dorothy and Eleanor. Dorothy Pownall moved to Iowa City in 1927 with her husband when he became the director of publications at the University of Iowa.

Using the pseudonym "Mary Manners", Pownall wrote an advice column for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, where she was employed from 1929 to 1939. Pownall was the woman's editor for the Iowa City Press-Citizen from 1947 to 1955. She continued as a free-lancewriter after retiring from the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Her poems and articles were published in numerous newspapers and journals, among them the New York Herald Tribune, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Christian Science Monitor, Saturday Evening Post, and Parents magazine. She was active in a number of organizations, including the League of Women Voters, Iowa Press Women Inc., Theta Sigma Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, the University Club, and the Iowa City Craft Guild.

She received many awards including the Iowa Golden Merit Award given by the Iowa Press Women, Inc. for outstanding contribution to the profession of journalism (1956) and three first-place awards from the National Federation of Press Women (1955, 1956 and 1967) in the categories of circulation, special article, and special series of articles.

Pownall died in 1979.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Dorothy Ashby Pownall papers

Identifier: IWA0025

Journalist who reported on Camp Dodge in Iowa during World War I.

Dates: 1918-1974