Belle Babb Mansfield
Commitment to Educational Excellence
Born August 23, 1846, Bell Babb Mansfield moved to Mount Pleasant — known as “the Athens of Iowa” — in 1860. At Iowa Wesleyan University, she earned the B.A. in 1866, M.A. in 1870, and LL.D. in 1872. Successful in studying Law, Belle spent her professional life teaching. She was a Professor of English Literature at IWU from 1874 until 1885. From 1886 until her death in 1911, she served on the DePauw University faculty. Belle is buried in Mount Pleasant’s Forest Home Cemetery.
A Climate of Acceptance and Achievement
With the support of Mount Pleasant’s forward-thinking legal community, Belle Babb Mansfield surmounted legal obstacles to become, in 1869, the first woman admitted to the Bar in the United States. She began the study of Law in 1867 in the Amblers & Babb Law Office on the Mount Pleasant Square and passed the Iowa Bar Exam in Henry County on June 15, 1869. In 1893, the National League of Women Lawyers officially recognized her as the first woman admitted to a State Bar.
Dedication to Women’s Equality
An ardent supporter of Women’s Rights, Belle Babb Mansfield
As Belle turns a page in her book, the symbol for Education, she becomes a metaphor. Belle’s life turned a page in women’s history and made the world a better place. Calm, focused and deep in thought, Belle wears the face of determination as she pursues her path of intellectual achievement. She challenges us to strive for greatness. The countless young women who look up at Belle in the years to come will see that with education and perseverance they too are capable of changing their world.
—Sculptor Benjamin Victor
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Civil Rights • Education • Women. A significant historical date for this entry is August 23, 1846.
Location. 40° 58.446′ N, 91° 33.247′ W. Marker is in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in Henry County. Marker is on North Broadway Street south of East Broad Street, on the left when traveling south. Monument is located on the Iowa Wesleyan University campus. Touch for map.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Votes For Women (here, next to this marker); Iowa Wesleyan College (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Iowa Wesleyan College (within shouting distance of this marker); P.E.O. Sisterhood Founded (within shouting distance of this marker); James Harlan (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Das Deutsches Kollegium (about 700 feet away); Harlan Hotel (approx. 0.4 miles away); Replica of the Statue of Liberty (approx. 0.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mount Pleasant.
More about this marker. Marker is comprised of four metal tablets embedded in the concrete base surrounding the Belle Babb Mansfield sculpture.
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. Belle Babb Mansfield - Votes for Women
Also see . . .
1. Arabella "Belle" Babb Mansfield. The first woman in the United States to pass the bar examination and the nation's first female attorney. In June 1869 she passed the bar exam even though the Iowa Code limited those taking the test to "any white male person." Upon appeal, a court ruling stated that "the affirmative declaration that male persons may be admitted, is not an implied denial to the right of females," and Judge Francis Springer officially certified Belle at the Henry County courthouse (Submitted on July 23, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. Arabella Mansfield (Wikipedia). Mansfield was active in the women's suffrage movement, chairing the Iowa Women’s Suffrage Convention in 1870, and working with Susan B. Anthony. Mansfield died Aug. 1, 1911, before getting to see the suffrage movement’s ultimate achievement: passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, effective in 1920. (Submitted on July 23, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
3. Arabella “Belle” Babb Mansfield. While not a practicing lawyer by today’s modern definition, Belle dedicated her life to the betterment of humanity as a whole. Education was a focus of her life, teaching at both Iowa Wesleyan University and Indiana Asbury University, now DePauw. Belle was a loyal community servant who made enduring contributions of great impact and significance to the advancement of human welfare and freedom. (Submitted on July 23, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on July 23, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 23, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 117 times since then and 7 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on July 23, 2021, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.