Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Dora Haynes, 1859-1934

By Mary Okin, PhD Student, History of Art and Architecture, UC Santa Barbara

Founding member of the Friday Morning Club, Chairman, Finance Committee of the Political Equality League of Southern California; member of the Civic League Suffrage Committee; first president of the California League of Women Voters; helped found the Los Angeles County League of Women Voters

Dora Haynes (neé Fellows) was born in 1859 near Yorktown, Pennsylvania. A strong student, Haynes attended Wellesley College for a year and the following year, 1882, married John Randolph Haynes, a general physician with a growing practice. John brought Dora to Philadelphia where their only child, a son named Sydney, was born. Sydney's tragic death at age three from scarlet fever along with Dora's poor health in 1886, prompted a move to Los Angeles where John became one of California's prominent physicians, real estate investors, and social reformers, and Dora, his "silent partner," became a leading matron, women's club organizer, and suffrage leader.

Truly in a companionate marriage, Haynes was active in managing her husband's career while he supported her activism. When she was not attending or hosting women's club meetings, Haynes was working in his medical office, drawing charts and diagrams for his classroom demonstrations, and hosting clients, important business contacts, and social or political events in their home. Prior to the 1911 campaign for suffrage, Haynes joined a number of women's clubs in Los Angeles, including the Ruskin Art Club and the Friday Morning Club, of which she was a charter member. The Friday Morning Club became a nexus for social reform and women's suffrage discussions in Los Angeles and Haynes established a network of contacts for herself and for her husband's later reform efforts. Despite her delicate health in 1911, she served as Chairman of the Finance Committee of the Political Equality League of Southern California, a financial and educational arm that supplied speakers to local meetings of men and women interested in suffrage.

After suffrage passed in California in 1911, Haynes remained involved in the national cause as a member of the Civic League Suffrage Committee that organized aid to campaigns in other states. In 1913, she was one of several Los Angeles dowagers endorsing a female candidate for the city council. On Dora's urging, John also wrote to President Woodrow Wilson's secretary to lobby for the release of suffragist Alice Paul imprisoned for picketing the White House in 1917. After the end of World War I, Haynes helped establish the California League of Women Voters and was elected its first President in 1919. She also assisted in founding the Los Angeles County League of Women Voters, a local wing of the state organization that allowed her to stay close to home. It is an indication of her prominence in Los Angeles that when the Susan B. Anthony Amendment passed in 1920, Los Angeles activists celebrated over a Thanksgiving banquet in her home. Her voice on the subject is best captured by an interview in response to a man's opinion that women vote as their husbands tell them in 1920. Haynes responded, "women have been influencing their husband's votes for a long time... Many women, especially the housewives, have so much more time to read and think upon political subjects than their husbands that they are better qualified to decide."

In 1929, Haynes developed Hodgkin's disease and died at her Los Angeles home in 1934. Her estate helped to fund the John and Dora Haynes Foundation, a non-profit organization that continues to promote her commitment to progressive causes through research and education focused on promoting democracy, urban reform, and education in Los Angeles.


The John Randolph Haynes Foundation. The John Randolph Haynes Foundation. 2017. Accessed August 30, 2017.

"L.A. Now Center for Nationwide Suffrage." Los Angeles Herald, May 13, 1915.

"LOVE FOR HUBBY WILL NOT SWAY WIFE'S VOTE, WOMEN SAY - Feminine Political Leaders of L.A. Dispute Claims Man's Views Are Paramount." Los Angeles Herald, October 20, 1920.

Sitton, Tom. John Randoph Haynes: California Progressive. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.

Sitton, Tom. "'Promoting the Well-Being of Mankind': The John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation." Southern California Quarterly 70, no. 1 (April 1, 1988): 97-106.

"Suffrage Committee To Aid Other States." Los Angeles Herald, August 8, 1912.

"Women Issue Letter Indorsing Mrs. Noel." Los Angeles Herald, June 2, 1913.

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