Lucy Somerville Howorth: Lawyer, Politician, and Feminist Lesson Plan

Martha Hutson


“I think that life has to be lived positively and affirmatively,” Lucy Somerville Howorth once declared to an interviewer. Students will find in this lesson numerous examples across diverse areas where Mrs. Howorth lived a life true to her declaration. As an activist, she was involved in issues that ranged from social and economic fairness and justice for women and Black people, to political campaigning and holding office, to conservation and stewardship. Her accomplishments were extensive and served as the framework of a rich legacy to her state and nation.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 4, and 5


Grades 4 (with modifications) through 12



Students will:

  • Construct a timeline of events in the life of Lucy Howorth;
  • Collect information and examples that describe Mrs. Howorth’s life in these areas: background, personality, obstacles, and significance;
  • Summarize their findings by constructing a Bio-Cube; and,
  • Recognize a personal connection to the legacy of Mrs. Howorth.


  1. On the board, write this assignment: Define the term “legacy.”
  2. After allowing students to discuss this briefly, add this quotation from the Mississippi History Now article: “She … left a legacy for countless women of the state and nation.”
  3. Ask students to adjust their definitions with regard to this quote. Teacher may wish to read the definition from a dictionary and have students talk about the sorts of legacies, both tangible and intangible, that people can leave. Suggest that they might want to think about the kinds of things they may wish to hand down to their descendants.
  4. Tell students that they will be exploring the legacy of Lucy Howorth, a prominent Mississippi lawyer, politician, and feminist of the 20th century and will make a determination of how her life might have affected theirs.


  1. Students will read the Mississippi History Now article on Lucy Howorth, taking note of significant events in order to construct a timeline.
  2. With a partner, students will develop a construction paper timeline outlining the important events in Mrs. Howorth’s life.
  3. Ask students to discuss the effectiveness of using a timeline to understand a person’s life. Is there additional supportive information that would help them gain a clearer picture of Mrs. Howorth and her reasons for living as she did?
  4. Challenge them now to take another look at Mrs. Howorth’s life to find information and examples that show how her background, her personality, and the obstacles she faced helped define her legacy. Students will make a four-column chart on their papers, using these three headings: background, personality, and obstacles. Below the headings they will note specifics in each area from the Mississippi History Now article and their timelines that will enable them to develop a deeper understanding of what motivated Mrs. Howorth’s actions.
  5. Students will now add significance in the fourth column to their charts and will identify specific accomplishments that gave meaning to Mrs. Howorth’s life and which contributed to her legacy.
  6. Working again with a partner, students will summarize the information they have collected in order to write a brief, but insightful, description of the life and work of this activist and will indicate in what ways their lives may be affected by Mrs. Howorth’s legacy.


  1. Introduce students to the Bio-Cube technique. They will each create a Bio-Cube for their study of Mrs. Howorth. Ask them to formulate a quotation that adequately captures Mrs. Howorth’s legacy to society and add it to their Cube.
    • Note: to use the Bio-Cube tool linked above, (after opening the link) click "Launch the Tool!", enter your name, and then select "Bio Cube".
  2. Ask students individually to write an answer to this question posted on the board: “In what way(s) might my life be affected by the legacy of Lucy S. Howorth?”


  1. Participation in large-group discussion
  2. Completion of timeline and chart
  3. Bio-Cube construction
  4. Reflective response


  • Read excerpts from an interview with Mrs. Howorth from the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Students may wish to research Mrs. Howorth’s relationship with other leaders of the early feminist movement such as Carrie Chapman Catt, Ann Howard Shaw, et al.
  • The Mississippi History Now article describes Mrs. Howorth as a lawyer, politician, and feminist. Find examples of additional issues in which Mrs. Howorth was involved.