By Daniel Doorman, undergraduate student, Central Connecticut State University
On June 12, 1870, South Trenton, NY welcomed into the world Dorothy Jones, a woman who became a valuable factor in the women’s suffrage movement. She was one of 13 children by her father Edward Jones and mother Ann Lewis Jones, and one of the 9 children that lived into adulthood. While little documentation of her adolescence and emerging adulthood exists, records show that on June 5, 1895, Dorothy married Walter J. Bartlett at 24 years old.
Bartlett joined the suffrage movement in 1913. Her brilliance and headstrong attitude led her to be Windham County, Connecticut’s leading suffragist. Within a few short years she had joined the National Woman’s Party and was marching alongside the suffrage pickets outside Woodrow Wilson’s White House in 1917. During that particular protest, Dorothy refused the authorities’ demands for her to hand over the flag she was brandishing, resulting in her detainment after she refused to pay the $25 fine. She was sentenced to serve 60 days at the Occoquan Workhouse.
Her time at the workhouse was daunting, but she persevered. Dorothy suffered under the iron fist of the workhouse warden, who would easily strip the inmates of basic rights and privileges if they simply pointed out the lack of fresh air or rodent-ridden and filthy living quarters. Over the course of the 60 days she spent in the workhouse, Dorothy lost close to 14 pounds due to a steady diet of expired meat, dirty cereals, and half cooked, moldy pork products. The NWP directed all suffrage prisoners to proclaim themselves political prisoners and to refuse to assist with work at the workhouse. Unfortunately, the administration did not recognize political prisoner status. After the NWP went to court over conditions at Occuquan, Bartlett and the other Occoquan suffragists were relocated to a jail in Washington D.C.; Bartlett was placed in solitary confinement. Dorothy recounted her time in solitary as desolate and deprived, stating a complete lack of exercise, books for reading, or the ability to communicate with any of her peers.
Following the completion of her 60-day incarceration, Dorothy emerged as a woman on a mission. She set out to share to the public her experiences within the workhouse and prison, as not only an expose of the dire conditions for the activists of social justice, but also as a rally cry to keep fighting for equality. Due to her prowess in the political forum and general intelligence, her public campaigns across the state helped the women’s suffrage movement gain some crucial publicity in the public eye.
Dorothy turned her sights on politics, and became the first woman elected to the General Assembly from Windham County. She was committed and not someone to be messed around with in legislature, staying in office for six terms and becoming an affiliate of the future first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Her political resume went on to include 12 years spent on the Putnam Board of Education, and a term as the first president of the County Democratic Federation of Women’s Clubs.
Following a lifetime of service in the women’s movement and pioneering the female presence in Connecticut politics, Dorothy Jones Bartlett passed away on July 21, 1956.
1. Mrs. Dorothy J. Bartlett 28th district senate choice of democrats. (1930, Oct 16). The Hartford Courant (1923-1991) Retrieved from https://ccsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/557905791?accountid=9970
2. Special to, T. C. (1917, Nov 07). "FOOD IS WORMY AND JAIL INFESTED WITH RATS AND BED-BUGS," MRS BARTLETT. The Hartford Courant (1887-1922) Retrieved from https://ccsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/556523596?accountid=9970
3. Obituary 6 -- no title. (1956, Jul 22). The Hartford Courant (1923-1991) Retrieved from https://ccsu.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/563774815?accountid=9970
4. "Dorothy Jones Bartlett (June 12, 1870 – July 21, 1956)." Turning Point Suffragist Memorial. Accessed April 27, 2017. http://www.suffragistmemorial.org/dorothy-jones-bartlett-june-12-1870-july-21-1956/.
5. Dorothy Jones Bartlett (1870 - 1956) - Find A Grave Memorial. Accessed April 27, 2017. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=115908233.