Ida Morgan Napier was born in 1877 in Nashville, Tennessee. She attended college at Fisk University where she was a soloist with the Fisk Jubilee Singers. In 1902 she married Raymond Augustus Lawson, and the couple had three children: Warner, Rosalind, and Elizabeth. R. Augustus Lawson was a gifted concert pianist who performed in major cities and was a professor of piano in Hartford.
Ida Lawson was a cornerstone of the African American community and worked with many organizations, which included black and white members, to improve the lives of people in Hartford, particularly those of children. A co-founder of the Women’s League of Hartford, Lawson led the organization from 1918 to 1943. The Women’s League’s Community House offered a home for young black working women, in addition to a daycare for children, community and educational programs, and a meeting space.
Lawson’s service activities were wide ranging. She became the first African American member of the Board of Directors at the Hartford YWCA and the Greater Hartford Tuberculosis and Health Education Society. Her other leadership positions included working on the Boards of Trustees of the North End Community Center, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and the Women’s Auxiliary of the Hartford Symphony. She was also a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Talcott Street Congregational Church.