"Lockwood for President!" Belva Ann, Who?

"Lockwood for President!" Belva Ann, Who?
Frances Cleveland: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: One week


Belva Ann Lockwood was the first woman admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court (in 1879) and the second woman ever to run for the Presidency of the United States (in 1884). Although soundly defeated for the Presidency (she won only a little over 4,000 votes) by Grover Cleveland, her story remains one of a woman who fought for what she believed in, and left a legacy for all to admire.


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the life of Belva Ann Lockwood through the creation of a set of “news” articles on her admission to practice law before the Supreme Court in 1879 and her nomination for the Presidency in 1884.

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Access to print materials Paper, pen or pencil Or, word processor


1.  Introduce the lesson by asking students if they believe a woman will run for President any time soon.  After some discussion, explain that when a woman does run for President, she will not be the first. One such woman (actually, the second to run for President) is Belva Ann Lockwood.
2.  Mrs. Lockwood’s legacy is threefold: she was the first woman to be allowed to practice before the Supreme Court; she was the second woman to run for President, and she was an untiring peace activist.

3.  Provide a time for students to explore the websites listed below, as well as other sites, and print materials.  Then, ask students to select a topic to be the basis for a newspaper article that might have been written at the time (1879 and 1884).  Divide students into two groups, one group to produce a series of newspaper articles about Lockwood’s first
appearance before the Supreme Court, and the other a series of articles about Lockwood’s run for the Presidency.
4.  Articles can be graded according to a teacher-produced rubric, or by traditional methods familiar to students, and/or content area standards for social studies or language arts.
5.  Provide a time for students to share their work.

Extending the Lesson:

This lesson can be extended by actually producing a newspaper for each event, with articles not only about the event but also about other things that were happening.  Using the First Ladies Library Timeline for this extension would be helpful.

Note:  There is a website included in the list of sites (below) labeled "For the Teacher," which demonstrates a lesson that one teacher did, having students write biographies of famous women.  It is included here just as another set of ideas.

Sources & Resources:

 Brown, Drollene P. Belva Lockwood Wins Her Case. Morton Grove, IL: Albert Whitman & Company, 1987.
Belva Lockwood 

Belva Lockwood on Wikipedia 

Equal Rights Party 

Women and Other Strangers Before the Bar 

Blazing the Trail for Other Women in the Law 

For the Teacher (an example of one class's work on biographies)
This lesson was developed by Averil McClelland, Kent State University.