Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sarah A. P. Dickerman, 1833-1908

By Cosima P. Lill, visiting graduate student, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Acting President, National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts (N.W.S.A. of Massachusetts)

Sarah A. P. Dickerman was born June 13, 1833 in Boston to John A. Ballard and Sarah D. C. Gamage. She married Henry W. Dickerman (1829-1906) on February 16, 1853. Her husband worked as a clerk for the city of Boston. Together they had two sons Joseph Henry (1854-?) and William Montgomery (1855-1855). Her sister Georgiana A. Ballard (1835-1910) was a Boston school teacher. Sarah is listed in the Lineage Book of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution as a direct descendent of General Amasa Davis who was one of the Boston merchants who signed the agreement which led to the Boston Tea Party in 1773. Sarah died a widow on June 14, 1908.

Sarah was vice-president and served as acting president of the National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts (N.W.S.A., of Massachusetts) during the 1890s and 1900s, a state chapter of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.). She held the position of acting president, filling in for president Dr. Salome Merritt who had other professional commitments. In efforts to streamline causes, the association discontinued in 1901 to merge with the larger Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association presided over by Alice Stone Blackwell.

Although listed as home maker in U.S. and Massachusetts Census records, Sarah dedicated her time to causes relating to women suffrage and education: With regards to women suffrage, she served on the Ward and City Committee of Women Voters in Boston. With regards to education, Sarah served on the executive committee of the Citizens' Public School Union, as secretary of the Massachusetts School Suffrage Association, worked in the Moral Education Association and Franklin School Association.

Her efforts were both focused on matters pertaining to her Boston neighborhood Jamaica Plain (Jamaica Plain Woman's Alliance, Jamaica Plain School Suffrage Association, Jamaica Plain Friendly Society) and broader regional causes (New England Helping Hand Society which provided homes for working girls, Woman's Charity Club, Martha and Mary Lend-a-Hand Club, Barnard Memorial Association, Children's Mission to the Children of the Destitute, Committee of Council and Co-operation, Ladies' Physiological Institute, Daughters of the American Revolution, and Animal Rescue League).


Daughters of the American Revolution. (1912). Lineage Book - National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Volume 36. (1912). Washington, D.C.: The Society. pp. 115-116

Helping Hand Society. Woman's Journal. (1891, Feb 21). Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. p. 63.

Howe, J. W., & Graves, M. H. (Eds.). (1904). Representative Women of New England. Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co.. p. 233

Massachusetts Probate Court (Suffolk County). (1916). Probate Record Books 1907-1908 Suffolk County, Massachusetts (1900-1916) Vol. 917-928.

National American Woman Suffrage Association. (1901). Convention 1901: First Baptist Church, M. Proceedings of the Thirty-third Annual Convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, held at First Baptist Church ... Minneapolis, Minn., May 30 and 31, June 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, 1901. Washington, D.C.: The Association.

The Boston Herald. (1908, Jun 16). P. 7

Woman's Journal (1901, Nov 30). Nineteenth Century Collections Online. Dickerman, S. A. P. Mass. School Suffrage Association. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017. p. 380.

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