Arabella Mansfield


"There was a quiet determination and dedication in every event of the life of Belle A. Mansfield."
--Dr. Louis A. Haselmayer, Women's Lawyer Journal, Spring 1969

Arabella Mansfield became the first woman lawyer in the United States when she passed the bar examination in Henry County in 1869. Born in 1846, she did not attend law school but studied for two years in her brother's law office in Mount Pleasant to prepare for the exam. She was also a pioneer in the Iowa suffrage movement, chairing the first Iowa Suffrage Association state convention in 1870. She was the group's first secretary and campaigned for equal educational opportunities for women as well as voting rights. Despite Mansfield's admission to the bar, she spent her professional life teaching. She was professor of English at Iowa Wesleyan College and later, dean of the school of art and music at De Pauw University in Indiana. Mansfield died in 1911 at age 65. Mansfield was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1980.