Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lavina A. Hatch, 1836-1903

By Clare M. Sheridan, Librarian (retired): American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA

Hatch: Recording and Corresponding secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts. Delegate to annual conventions of NWSA and NAWSA

Lavina Allen Hatch was born on May 20, 1836 in Pembroke, MA (Plymouth Co.) and died March 20, 1903 at age 66 in (East) Pembroke, MA. Her father, Isaac Hatch, Jr., a woolen manufacturer, was a seventh-generation New Englander. Her mother, Lavina Allen was born in Bowdoinham, Maine although her family was from Dover, MA. Hatch was one of seven children, four of whom survived. She attended Wheaton Female Seminary in Norton, MA (now Wheaton College) from 1850-1852 with additional education at Hanover Academy in Hanover, MA and Partridge Academy in Duxbury, MA. Hatch was employed as a schoolmistress in the local towns where she was "remembered as a teacher who not only disapproved of corporal punishment, but succeeded in controlling even the most unruly." (see Julia Ward Howe). She gave up teaching to care for her brother's home and children at the death of their mother-- later adopting her niece and nephew. Hatch also cared for an invalid mother at the family home and served as postmistress in East Pembroke in the early 1870s. Hatch was raised a Unitarian and was later a student of Spiritualism.

Hatch was a tireless volunteer. She joined the Massachusetts Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals as a young woman recruiting memberships throughout Plymouth County, and was active in the temperance movement. During the Civil War, she was secretary for the local group of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Shortly after recovering from spinal meningitis in the winter of 1875-76, she worked at the Centennial Fair in Philadelphia for over four months at the New England exhibit. By the late 1870s, Hatch was free from family responsibilities and moved to Boston where she lived at several addresses while spending her summers in Pembroke. It is during this period that she became active in the suffrage movement, although a profile in the Boston Post of Jan. 9, 1895 notes that as a girl she "carried about her petitions to be signed in the interest of the woman property owners." While living in Boston, Hatch volunteered for multiple worthy causes including the advancement of public schools, the Ward 10 Club (secretary), the Ladies' Aid Association, the Women's Educational and Industrial Union, the Woman's Charity Club Hospital, the Committee of Council and Cooperation, and the New England Helping Hand Society, et al. However as the Post writes, "First in her heart is the Woman's Suffrage Association."

Hatch was a founding member and secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts, the rival to Lucy Stone's Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association. Both were affiliated with the National-American. The National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts was formed in 1882. Vol. III of the History of Woman Suffrage noted that the object of its constitution "is to secure to women their right to the ballot, by working for national, state, municipal, school, or any other form of suffrage….While it is auxiliary to the National Association, it reserves to itself, the right of independent action. It has held conventions in Boston, and some of the chief cities of the State, sent delegates to the annual Washington Conventions and published valuable leaflets." Hatch also wrote the organization's history for Vol. IV indicating that the association was formed "as it seemed necessary to give support to the national which they were not getting from the state society [Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association organized in 1870] at that time allied to the American [Woman Suffrage] Association." Hatch was the recording secretary of the National Woman Suffrage Association of Massachusetts from its founding and also corresponding secretary from 1892. In addition, Hatch kept the records of the Boston Political Class formed in 1884 as an auxiliary. The Boston Evening Transcript and the Boston Journal frequently summarized the monthly and executive meetings of NWSAMA with Hatch listed as secretary. The Association was disbanded in 1901 and merged with the larger Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association which became the Massachusetts League of Women Voters after the passage of the 19th Amendment.

Hatch was also very active at the national level testifying before the House Judiciary Committee (along with Susan B. Anthony) at hearings on woman suffrage during the annual conventions of 1889 and 1894. In both cases, the Judiciary Committee took no action.

At the 1895 National-American convention, she stated during a discussion of women's wages that "In Massachusetts there are between 103,000 and 105,000 families with no male head. Some of these pay large taxes and none of them has any representation."

At the National-American Convention of 1896, she spoke against the resolution disassociating the National Association from Elizabeth Cady Stanton's Woman's Bible (along with Susan B. Anthony). "Miss Hatch thought we should not hurt Mrs. Stanton by passing it [the resolution to disavow] but we might the organization, and she would prefer that we maintained a dignified silence and let the whole thing drop." (See Selected Papers)

Hatch was indeed a "very devoted suffrage worker" as noted in the proceedings of the 35th Annual Convention of NWSA. Less than a year earlier (Oct. 28, 1902) Hatch had written a note to Susan B. Anthony on the death of Elizabeth Cady Stanton—Anthony noting beneath Hatch's signature: "Miss Hatch died very soon after." Hatch is buried in Pembroke's Center Cemetery. Her image appears in Vol. IV of the History of Woman Suffrage.


Baker, Noelle, A. ed. Stanton in Her Own Time: a Biographical Chronicle of her Life, Family, Friends and Associates. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2016. Google books/Project MUSE

Boston [City] Directory. Boston: Sampson, Davenport & Co., 1877 and 1880.

Boston Evening Transcript, March 21, 1903. Obituary for [Lavina A.] Hatch. Microfilm/Boston Public Library.

Boston Journal and Boston Evening Transcript. Various, 1885, 1886, 1892. Microfilm/Boston Public Library.

Boston Post, Jan. 9, 1895, p.4. Newspaper Archive/Boston Public Library: "The Suffrage Delegate." Boston Post , January 09, 1895. hatch&rtserp=tags/lavina-.

Gordon, Ann D., ed. Selected papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Vol. VI: An Awful Hush, 1895-1906. New Brunswick: Rutgers U.P., 2013.

Howe, Julia Ward, et al. Sketches of Representative Women of New England. Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904. Internet Archive

Massachusetts. State Census, 1865.

Massachusetts Death Records, 1841-1915.

Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Association [history] (records held by the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College)

Plymouth County. 1897 Massachusetts Biographical Review, 1897.

Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. III (1876-1885). Rochester, N.Y., 1886.

Anthony, Susan B. and Ida Husted Harper, eds. History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. IV (1883-1900). Rochester, N.Y., 1902.

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. V (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK]

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. VI (1900-1920. N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922. [LINK] to Mass. Report]

U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

U.S. Federal Census. 1850-1880, 1900.

Wheaton College, Norton, Mass. College Archives. Courtesy of Zephorene Stickney Helmreich, College Archivist and Special Collections Curator.

Woman's Journal, Boston, Feb. 6, 1892. "National-American Resolutions." Woman's Journal (Boston Ma),$53b.?

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