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BALLOTS FOR BELVA by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen


The True Story of a Woman’s Race for the Presidency

by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen & illustrated by Courtney A. Martin

Age Range: 6 - 10

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-8109-7110-3
Publisher: Abrams

In 1884 Belva Lockwood ran for president, although as women she and her female running mate could not vote. She actually received some history-making votes in the election that Grover Cleveland won (and, in fact, he may well have carried New York thanks to misapplied Lockwood votes). The path to the 1884 election was not smooth: Widowed and remarried with a daughter, Belva went to law school where she was not allowed to take classes with men and where her degree was withheld until she wrote to President Grant, who was also president of the law school, and demanded her diploma. She was the first woman to practice law in federal courts and the first to argue a case before the Supreme Court. Bardhan-Quallen’s simply told narrative argues effectively for Lockwood’s place in history books. Martin’s illustrations are stiff and unconvincing, however, and, rather mysteriously, almost always picture Lockwood with her cat—even in law school. Useful but not exciting, which is too bad. (author’s note, glossary, timeline, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-10)