Arabella Mansfield

Arabella Mansfield was the first woman to become a licensed attorney in the US. She “read the law” in her brother’s law office. Despite an Iowa law restricting bar admission to males over 21, she passed the bar exam. She sued to challenge the law barring her admission and won, making Iowa the first state to permit women to be admitted to practice law. Despite being admitted to the bar, Arabella didn’t practice. Instead she became a college teacher and ultimately the Dean of the School of Art and then the School of Music at DePauw University. She was active in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, chairing the 1870 Iowa Women’s Suffrage Convention, but she didn’t live to see women get the right to vote. She died in 1911, nine years before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment.

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