Pierce, Bessie Louise
- Edward L. Lach, Jr.
Pierce, Bessie Louise (20 April 1888–03 October 1974), historian and educator, was born in Cairo, Michigan, the daughter of Clifton Jonathan Pierce, a dry goods store clerk, and Maria Carmelia Pierson Pierce. As a young child, she relocated with her family to Waverly, Iowa, where her father enjoyed a successful partnership in his own dry goods operation. After serving as president of her high school class for four years, Pierce graduated in 1905 and entered the State University of Iowa (now the University of Iowa). Although few women at that time undertook higher education, Pierce's family was supportive (an aunt had previously completed medical school), and she graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in education in 1910. She then taught high school in Mason City and Sanborn, Iowa, but became frustrated because of the unlikelihood of promotion and decided to enter graduate school....