By Jim Turner, Fairfield
Iowa can be proud of her trailblazers, perhaps none more so than Arabella Mansfield. She was the first female lawyer in the United States in 1869. As you may have guessed, her path to this achievement wasn’t easy.
At the time she applied for admission to the Iowa State Bar, it was restricted to men. Her challenge to this restriction led to Iowa becoming the first state to accept both women and minorities to the Bar.
She went on to a life of activism and tireless support for Women’s Suffrage. She knew Susan B. Anthony personally and worked with her closely. Although she died in 1911 and did not see the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment that gave women the right to vote, she had a big hand in achieving that worthy goal.
She also gives those of us in Southeast Iowa the pride of knowing she worked for a time at Iowa Wesleyan University in Mt. Pleasant.
With the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote coming up later in August, it is a good time to honor Arabella Mansfield.