VOTES FOR WOMEN
- Grant Recipient
National Votes for Women Trail
- 113 W Broad St, Mt Pleasant, IA 52641, USA
- 40.974112, -91.554101
National Collaborative for Women's History Sites
Mount Pleasant, Iowa was once home to trailblazing women’s suffrage advocate Arabella “Belle” Babb Mansfield. Following graduation from Iowa Wesleyan University, Belle made history in 1869 when she was admitted to the bar and became the first woman to serve as an attorney in the United States. A historically male dominated profession, women were not permitted to practice law. Prior to Belle’s efforts, multiple women had tried, but were sadly unsuccessful.
In addition to her accomplishments in law and education, Belle was highly active in the cause for women’s suffrage. In 1870 she was elected president of the Iowa Woman Suffrage Convention. Belle continued to reside in Mount Pleasant and was employed as a professor at Iowa Wesleyan University for a number of years before moving to Indiana for the role of Dean of the College of Art at DePauw University, where she remained until her death in 1911. While Belle herself did not live to see her dream of women gaining the right to vote, her admission to the bar and her success in becoming a lawyer was monumental. Her efforts were valuable in breaking down barriers which helped pave the way for women of future generations.