Biographical Sketch of Louise Dodson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Louise (Mrs. Frank W.) Dodson, 1865-?

By Susan R. Cloud, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University

Louise (Mrs. Frank W.) Dodson (b. October 8, 1865), of Des Moines, Iowa, was a leader in the women's suffrage movement in Iowa and was active in Republican politics at the state and national level after passage of the 19th Amendment.

Dodson was born in Kingston, Pennsylvania. She attended Wyoming Seminary and Bloomsburg Normal College, graduating in 1884. She married Frank W. Dodson on December 23, 1887. She was elected county recorder for Polk County, Iowa, and served for 10 years. Her chief reform was in improving and enforcing county jury laws.

In 1919, Dodson served as chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association. After passage of the 19th Amendment, she gave talks on "Practical Politics" that provided voters with information on such topics as ballots and the use of voting machines. She was a delegate to the 17th RNC from June 8-12, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois and also attended the Republican State Judicial Convention in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on July 27, 1920. From 1920-24, Dodson served as Iowa's associate (non-voting) committeewoman to the Republican National Convention. She served as chairman of the Women's Division of the Republican state organization in 1920 and the Women's Division of the Republican National Committee from 1928-30.

Because of her organizational experience, Dodson was sought out by Republican leaders in other states. On August 11, 1922, as director of the Republican Women's National Executive Committee, Dodson spoke at the NACW convention in Richmond, Virginia, stressing the need for black women to organize politically, to educate black voters, and to increase the number of voters. In April 1924, while serving as national chair of field activities for the RNC, Dodson traveled to Washington state to visit with Republican women's clubs. After the 1928 RNC, presidential candidate Herbert Hoover insisted that organizing women be a campaign priority and put Dodson in charge.

Sources:

The Des Moines Register, March 14, 1920, p. 26.

Freeman, Jo. A Room at a Time: How Women Entered Party Politics. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

Leonard, John W. (1914). Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915.

Mason City Globe-Gazette, August 5, 1930, p.6

National American Woman Suffrage Association. The History of Women's Suffrage, volume 6. [LINK]

Neverdon-Morton, Cynthia. Afro-American Women of the South and the Advancement of the Race, 1895-1925. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989.

Official Report of the Proceedings of the Seventeenth Republican National Convention, Volume 17 (1920).

Ross-Nazzall, Jeniifer M. Winning the West for Women: The Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011.

Rymph, Catherine E. Republican Women: Feminism and Conservatism from Suffrage Through the Rise of the New Right. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

State of Iowa. Official Register (1921). "Republican Conventions and State Platform."

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