Biographical Sketch of Sarah Butler Harris Dorris

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah Butler Harris Dorris, aka Mrs. A.H. Dorris, 1860-1918

By Dr. Amy Forss, professor, with source assistance from Scott Mahoney, librarian
Metropolitan Community College, Omaha, Nebraska

Daughter of the Revolution (DAR) member, State Suffrage Board member serving at various times as Secretary, Treasurer, and Press, Association of Collegiate Alumnae member, Fortnightly Club Secretary and also Treasurer, Lotus Club member.

In 1860, Sarah Butler Harris Dorris was born in Boston, Massachusetts to George Samuel Harris and Sarah Fisk Bacon Harris. She was one of seven siblings, including her brother George H. Harris, who became the president of the Burlington Railroad. Her brother, John F. Harris, created Pioneer Park in Lincoln, Nebraska in honor of their parents, who moved to Lincoln in 1872. She became the second wife of physician surgeon Alvah Hull Dorris when they married on September 7, 1907. Their marital union did not produce any children. Dr. A.H. Dorris died in February 24, 1914.

Sarah Dorris was a supporter of the Nebraska Suffrage Association. She alternately served on Nebraska's State Suffrage Board in various capacities: secretary, treasurer, and press representative. Dorris was a member of the Fortnightly Club and Lotus Club, two of Lincoln, Nebraska's oldest study clubs. She graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1884 with a Bachelors of Literature. She was a long-time friend of fellow University of Nebraska graduate renowned Nebraska writer Willa Cather. Dorris published for a short period (dates unknown) a society newspaper entitled the Capital City Courier.

By 1912, Dorris wrote a regular column in the Lincoln Star newspaper concerning her political opinions, particularly about suffrage activities in Nebraska. She succinctly wrote of Nebraska automobile tours driving carloads of suffragists, buglers and singers proclaiming the need for women's suffrage. Her "About the Suffrage Campaign" article of September 6, 1914, noted the generosity of local suffragists willing to tour Nebraska in spite of weather conditions earlier in the year. Dorris maintained that the work of the rural and city Nebraskan suffragists for the federal suffrage amendment were not wasted efforts in spite of false rumors of Bohemian residents of the state being anti-suffrage. Dorris was quoted in the Lincoln Daily News in 1915 as stating, "I take no part in prohibition or any other reform until I am recognized as a human being."

Sarah Butler Harris Dorris died at her home after a two-year illness on April 11, 1918. Dorris, a resident of Lincoln for forty-five years, was buried in Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska in April of 1918. In 1926, her Neo-Classical Revival home, built during the same time frame as William Jennings Bryan's Fairview estate, became the fraternity house of Alpha Tau Omega at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. To avoid demolition, it was moved from its original location at 1410 K Street (the corner of 16th and K Street) to 1630 K Street in 1926. On April 9, 1931 it was reported in The Lincoln Star newspaper that several hundred members of the First Plymouth Congregational Church gathered to dedicate its ladies parlor to the church in memory of Sarah Harris Dorris. It was noted that Dorris had a generous spirit, keen sense of humor, and a talent for making friendships with rich and poor alike.

Sources:

Find a Grave Memorial # 53703112, findagrave.com, accessed April 28, 2017.

The Nebraska State Journal, August 14, 1910.

The Nebraska State Journal, September 18, 1910.

The Nebraska State Journal, Sunday edition, November 6, 1910.

Lincoln Daily News, February 23, 1914.

The Lincoln Star, June 14, 1914.

The Lincoln Star, August 2, 1914.

The Lincoln Star, September 6, 1914.

The Lincoln Star, September 13, 1914.

Lincoln Daily News, October 21, 1915.

Lincoln Daily News, November 3, 1915.

The Lincoln Star, May 29, 1916.

Lincoln Evening Journal, April 11, 1918.

The Lincoln Star, April 11, 1918.

The Lincoln Star, April 28, 1918.

The Lincoln Journal Star, April 9, 1931.

The Lincoln Star, July 27, 1969.

The Lincoln Star, June 25, 1973.

United States Department of the Interior Heritage Conservation and Recreation Service National Register of Historic Places. National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Form. Nebraska State Historical Society online Archives.

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