Purpose of the Award
The purpose of the Lucy Somerville Howorth Outstanding Woman of the Delta Award is to honor women who have made contributions to society at a local, state, or national level. Honorees have worked to encourage education among girls and women, demonstrated a passion for the advancement of women, used her talents for the betterment of her community, or has promoted the Delta in a positive way. Nominations may be submitted every other year (2019, 2021, 2023, etc…). Posthumous nominations will be accepted.
Who is Lucy Somerville Howorth?
Born on July 1st, 1895 in Greenville, Mississippi, Judge Lucy Somerville Howorth was the daughter of Nellie Nugent Somerville, a leading figure in the women’s suffrage movement and the temperance movement (Swain, 2009). She graduated from the University of Mississippi in 1922 with a law degree. At first, she was unable to gain clients because of the stigma against women lawyers that was common at the time; however, her sills eventually led to her becoming a member of the Mississippi Board of Bar Examiners and eventually as a magistrate for the United States District Court. Furthermore, in 1931 she was elected to the Mississippi House of Representatives, and served as the second woman (the first being her mother, Nellie Nugent Somerville) to ever be elected to that body. As a representative she served as Chairwoman for the Committee on Public Lands and passed the laws that create the State Game and Fish Commission, several state parks, brought more Civilian Conservation Camps to Mississippi (Swain, 2009).
After her time as a State Representative, she moved to Washington, D.C. and would be appointed to serve various positions under four different Presidents (Swain, 2009). Under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she was one of the first women to serve on the Board of Appeals of the Veterans Administration and worked to protect the careers of women who worked in government positions. Under President Truman she was the general counsel for the War Claims Commission and was the first woman to chair the Executive Department commission. In 1956, President Eisenhower appointed her to serve on the Commission on Governmental Security, a position in which she held till 1968. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed her to his Commission on the Status of Women (Swain, 2009).
Throughout her life she worked with the National Federation of Business and Professional Women and the American Association of University Women to advocate for the rights of women (Swain, 2009). After her retirement from government office, she and her husband moved to Cleveland. Mississippi where she continued to champion the causes she held dear, including integrating the county library. She passed away at the age of 102 on August 23rd, 1997 (Swain, 2009).
Swain, M. H. (2009). Lucy Somerville Howorth: Lawyer, politician, and feminist. Mississippi History Now. https://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/issue/lucy-somerville-howorth-lawyer-politician-and-feminist
- The nominee must be from the Mississippi Delta or currently living in the Mississippi Delta.
- Please include a letter, not exceed two (2) pages, outlining how the nominee has made contributions to society that have been recognized at a local, state or national level. o Examples of “Contributions to Society” can include, but are not limited by:
- examples of community service which enrich the lives of those in the Delta
- diligent effort to encourage education among girls and women
- a demonstration of passion and drive for the advancement of women, political enlightenment and equity for women.
- a woman who seized the opportunity to use her talents for the betterment of her community
- a woman who has promoted the Delta in a positive way.
- The nominee is willing to donate any papers/manuscript materials relating to her and her accomplishments to the University Archives.
- A likeness of the nominee awarded will be obtained or commissioned, and it will be hung in the Howorth Seminar Room with past awardees.
- The nominee awarded, or a representative from her family, will attend a special presentation recognizing the award to be held at the Charles W. Capps, Jr. Archives & Museum building on the campus of Delta State University, Cleveland, MS.
- Posthumous nominations will be accepted.