Winifred R. Tilden
Winifred R. Tilden was born to Lydia C. and George G.
Tilden on October 8, 1880 in Ames, Iowa. She graduated from Ames High School and
then earned her B.A. (1903) from Mount Holyoke College. Upon graduation from
Mount Holyoke, Tilden became Directress of Physical Culture for women at Iowa
State College (University).
Tilden became a strong leader of physical education for women on campus and was
nationally recognized for her efforts. She started Jack O' Lantern, a women's
honorary society, and the Women's Athletic Association, which supervised the
women's athletic clubs. She also created programs for female students that
included exercise, dancing, gymnastics, swimming, bowling, tennis, track,
basketball, golf, field hockey, archery, and a variety of other athletic
activities. Tilden wrote and staged the popular "May Day" pageants. These
celebrations honored women of the senior class and the profits from the events
benefited women's athletics.
In 1918, Tilden took a leave of absence from her teaching duties to serve the
YWCA war effort in France. She served as Hostess and Recreation Director at Toul,
France, and later was called to Paris to serve as Manager of the Palais Royal.
She returned to Iowa State in 1919 and was given the rank of Professor of
Under Tilden's direction, the women's physical education program expanded
tremendously. When she retired in 1944, her programs had grown from less than
100 participants into the thousands. The crowning achievement of her career was
the construction of the Women's Physical Education Building in 1941, the year
she stepped down as Head of the Department. Winifred Tilden died in 1948 after a
long illness. She is buried in the Ames Municipal Cemetery.