Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lillien Jane Martin, 1851-1943

By Dominique Berritto, Undergraduate, San Jose State University

Vice President and President of the College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California

Lillien Jane Martin was born on July 7, 1851 in Olean, New York to Russell and Lydia Hawes Martin. She never married and instead pursued a career as a psychologist and professor at Stanford University, writing at least twelve books during her career. At the age of twenty-five she was accepted into Vassar College where she earned her Bachelor's Degree. In 1894, she became the first woman in the Gottingen University's science program in Germany. Five years later she became the first female professor at Stanford University. On September 1, 1913, the University of Bonn awarded Martin an honorary M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy. She worked for Leland Stanford Junior University until February 7, 1916. Martin then opened her own private practice and operated mental health clinics in San Francisco. After her retirement, she spent many years traveling the world until her death on March 26, 1943 in San Francisco, California.

While in Germany, Martin was asked to travel to England and lead a group of American suffragists at a demonstration in Hyde Park in 1908. During this time, she became close friends with the Pankhurst family. She told the Oakland Tribune that: "in those days she was heartily in sympathy with the radical methods of her English sisters. She believed the suffragist movement there (England) to be misunderstood in the United States." On March 10, 1911, Sylvia Pankhurst visited San Francisco to boost the morale of the California suffragists. Martin was an honored guest of the board who accompanied Pankhurst during her visit.

In May of 1911, Martin was elected the third Vice-President of the College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California. The league consisted of a group of women that would recruit educated girls and teach them suffrage tactics. These tactics were important because later that same year, California held a statewide referendum to determine whether women should have the right to vote. The suffrage amendment successfully passed as a result of the efforts of suffragists like Martin. In 1912, Martin was promoted to President of the College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California. As president, she encouraged California suffragists to go to other states and promote the tactics used in California to gain women's right to vote. Martin was a devoted advocate for women's suffrage and accepted many invitations to speak on the topic.


1.)"Aids Suffragists in Other States." San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California); 5 May 1912, 56.

2.)Binheim, Max, ed. Women of the West, 1928. Los Angeles: Publishers Press, 1928.

3.)"Climbing Higher." The Rock Island Argus and Daily Union (Rock Island, Illinois). 28 November 1894, 6.

4.)College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California, Winning Equal Suffrage in California: Reports of Committees of the College Equal Suffrage League of Northern California in the Campaign of 1911. San Francisco: National College Equal Suffrage League, 1913.

5.)DeFord, Allen M. Psychologist Unretired: The Life Pattern of Lillien J. Martin. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1948.

6.)Fenton, Norman. "Lillien Jane Martin: 1851-1943." Psychological Review (July 1943): 440-442.

7.)"Flurry Shakes Suffrage Ranks." Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California). 9 March 1911, 5.

8.)"Germany Honors American." Oakland Tribune. September 14, 1913, 10.

9.)Gullett, Gayle Ann. Becoming Citizens: The Emergence and Development of the California Women's Movement, 1880-1911. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

10.)"Incidental Matters." Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa). 6 August 1916, 30.

11.)"Miss Lillie J. Martin." Kansas City Journal (Kansas City, Missouri) 28 May 1899, 16.

12.)"Miss Pankhurst to Arrive Today." San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, California) 10 March 1911, 11.

13.)Pelcowitz, Matthew. "Lillien Jane Martin." Psychology's Feminist Voices, 2012, accessed 11 May 2017, available from

14.)Williams, J. H. "Lillien Jane Martin: Consultant Unretired." Journal of Consulting Psychology 6, no. 5 (1942): 262-264.

15.)"Woman Professor Highly Honored." Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) 3 September 1913, 6.

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