Arabella (Belle) Babb Mansfield graduated from Iowa Wesleyan University in 1866. The following year she began studying law with her brother at his law office in Mount Pleasant, and in 1869 Belle sat for the bar exam and became the first woman licensed to practice law in the United States. Belle never practiced law in the traditional sense. Instead, she enjoyed a long and successful career as an educator, public orator, world traveler, art historian and journalist.

The Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium pays homage to her legacy of achievement and the impact of women in Iowa Wesleyan’s past, present and future.


Symposium Postponed to Fall 2020 

On March 12th, 2020, Iowa Wesleyan University President Chris Plunkett announced that the University would be extending its Spring Break one additional week, through March 22nd, 2020 with two weeks of online instruction afterward in response to the national concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

In tandem with the announcement, the Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium Leadership Team has made the difficult but important decision to postpone next week’s Symposium, including the “Winning the Vote” lecture on Tuesday, March 17th and the Student-Led Discussion and “An Evening with Belle” dinner on Friday, March 20th, 2020. As you know, the Symposium is intended to bring together our campus community and regional community, therefore we feel it is important to hold the events when all students are able to participate.

We want to express our deep appreciation for your support of the event as well as our sincere apologies that the event has been postponed. At this time, the Belle Babb Mansfield Symposium Leadership Team is working diligently with the Walton Family Foundation to reschedule Caryl Stern and the Symposium for early Fall 2020.