About Belva Lockwood

Teacher, lawyer, champion of women's rights, reformer, and peacemaker, Belva Ann Lockwood is a towering figure in the history of American women. Born Belva Ann Bennett in 1830, Mrs. Lockwood began her career as a teacher. Married and widowed at an early age, she moved to Washington, D.C., in 1866 to open a private school and take charge of the Union League Hall – a center for the burgeoning suffragette movement. 

Seeing the law as the most effective means to advance what would become a decades-long struggle for women's rights, Mrs. Lockwood was admitted to National University (later the George Washington University), earning a law degree in 1873.  Facing stiff opposition, Mrs. Lockwood was admitted to the D.C. Bar, where she sought and won admission to practice before the Federal Court of Claims and in 1879 became the first woman in American history to argue a case before the Supreme Court. 

Widening the scope of her activism, Mrs. Lockwood was the Equal Rights Party candidate for president in 1884 and 1888 and became leader of the Universal Peace Union. Carrying arguments for arbitration to several Paris conferences, Mrs. Lockwood spoke eloquently on behalf of the peaceful resolution of international disputes.

The "irrepressible" Belva Ann Lockwood died in 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment was passed, granting women the right to vote.

Previous Belva Lockwood Memorial Award Recipients

Cathy Russell, JD '88

Margaret Richardson, JD '68

Peggy Cooper Cafritz, JD '71 

Carmen Ortiz, JD ’81

Margaret Zwisler, JD '76

Elizabeth Moler, JD '77

Corinne Ball, JD '78

Margaret Carlson, JD '73

Kathryn L. Carson, JD '83

Wilma B. Liebman, JD '74

Chrisina Guerola Sarchio, JD '95

Mary Helen Sears, JD '60

Judge Joanne Fogel Alper, JD '75

Carol Elder Bruce, JD '74

Anne W. Branscomb, JD '62
Barbara J. Hart, JD '75
Mary L. Schapiro, JD '80

Rosalyn B. Bell, JD '51
Barbara M. Keenan, JD '74
Susan M. Hoffman, JD '79
Jeanette A. Michael, JD '75

*The first Belva Lockwood Memorial Award Ceremony was held in 1993.