Anna B. Lawther


"Anna Lawther, by serving as the first woman member of the Board of Regents, proved her faith in women’s educability and left Iowa women a legacy of opportunity by becoming a role model of courage and integrity, despite the social restraints on her career." — Mary A. Grefe, 1994

Anna B. Lawther was a pioneer in Women's rights, woman suffrage, higher education, and community participation. Born in 1872, she was educated in Dubuque, Iowa and traveled east to attend college, receiving her B.A. degree from Bryn Mawr in 1897. Lawther served as secretary of that college for 15 years, before returning to her hometown in 1912 and becoming deeply involved in civic and social welfare activities. She was quickly caught up in the suffrage struggle and, as president of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, worked to secure Women's right to vote. After the 19th Amendment became law, she was named Iowa's first Democratic National Committeewoman and traveled the state to inform new voters about the party. As the first woman appointed to the Iowa State Board of Education in 1921, Lawther was a strong voice for women in higher education for 20 years. In honor of her efforts, a Women's residence hall at what is now the University of Northern Iowa was named for her in 1937. Lawther died in 1957. Lawther was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1985.