Seven tablets, engraved with Wittenmyer's achievements, surround a pinkish-gray stone platform and column. At the top of the column is a bronze contemporary reinterpretation of the victorious Nike (Winged Victory), which symbolizes Wittenmyer's triumph over social injustice and war. The sculpture is located in the circle drive east of Lang Hall, allowing admirers to walk (or drive) around it and read each tablet. Dedicated on April 20, 1996
Anna Akbari, a student of Dianne Merritt Forker, drew the name of Annie Turner Wittenmyer from a hat for a fifth grade essay in 1990. Two years later her mother, Jean Neibauer, shared the paper with the Women's Studies Advisory Board. The Board found the connection between Wittenmyer and the University important so they commissioned a sculpture.
The sculpture honors Wittenmyer for her Civil War relief work. She was instrumental in organizing orphans' homes for children of Iowa soldiers who died in the Civil War. Cedar Falls' Iowa Soldiers' Orphans' Home, which opened in 1869, later became the Iowa State Normal School, and eventually UNI. Some of Wittenmyer's other achievements include being the first president of the Women's Christian Temperance Movement, helping form the first hospital diet kitchen, and organizing aide societies.
Gibbs believed the sculpture by itself would not be meaningful to most people. The tablets were necessary to help people learn about Wittenmyer's life and her influence in the State of Iowa. Martha J. Reineke, then director of Women's Studies at UNI, and Renee Romano, then member of the Art and Architecture Committee, both researched Wittenmyer's life and chose key events to highlight in the tablets. The engraver on the project was the Brannon Monument company of Dubuque, Iowa.
Compiled by Sarah Eaton, edited by Susan Basye
Special Collections and University Archives