Suffragist Anna Bell Lawther

Feb 25, 2020  | 1 min 52 sec  | Ep 2020

Anna Lawther worked to build support for the suffrage movement during World War I.


Born in Dubuque in 1872, Anna Bell Lawther became involved in the suffrage movement at Bryn Mawr College in the mid 1890s, where she was active in their Equal Suffrage League until she moved back to Iowa in 1912.

During the 1916 referendum campaign, Lawther was heavily involved in the Dubuque Equal Suffrage Association.

Her potential for leadership was tested greatly as the referendum ultimately failed, but other suffragists in the state recognized her organizational skills and elected her to be the next president of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association. Lawther served as president when the United States entered World War I and threw herself into the war effort, serving on several committees and encouraging other women to get involved. She stepped down from the presidency in 1919 due to a family health problem, but in 1920 became the first woman delegate from Iowa to the Democratic National Convention and became the first woman appointed to the Iowa State Board of Education in 1921.