Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890–1920

Biography of Cordelia Coffman Dawley, 1870-1934

By Dana Aritonovich, independent historian and writer.

Delegate, Ohio, National American Woman Suffrage Association Annual Convention

Cordelia Coffman was born in 1870 in Fayette County, Ohio, to Benjamin F. and Margaret (Straley) Coffman. She was educated at Ohio Wesleyan University in Delaware. Cordelia married physician Byron Willis Dawley on October 15, 1891. They had no children. Byron died sometime after the couple moved to Long Beach, California, in the 1920s. Cordelia died in 1934 and is buried in Washington Court House, Ohio.

Upon moving to Toledo several years after getting married, Cordelia Coffman Dawley became active in local women's clubs. She also joined a number of state and national suffrage organizations.

At the 41st Annual National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) Convention in Seattle in July 1909, Cordelia read a paper entitled "The Self-Government Plan in Our Public Schools as an Aid in Preparing the Coming Generation for Woman Suffrage," written by fellow Toledo suffragist Martha S. Kline,and led a group discussion on the subject. Seattle was chosen as the convention site in part because the state legislature had submitted a woman suffrage amendment to be voted on in 1910.

Cordelia was one of 11 Ohio delegates to the NAWSA convention in Washington, D.C., in April 1910. She pledged $10 on behalf of the Toledo Woman Suffrage Association. That same year, she was recording secretary for the OhioWoman Suffrage Association. Cordelia attended the executive committee meeting with five other women at The Hollenden in Cleveland on November 11, after which a general meeting of suffrage clubs was held.

In 1917, she was elected to the board of the newly-founded Woman's Homeopathic League of Ohio.


The History of Woman Suffrage, Volume 6, edited by Ida Husted Harper. J.J. Little & Ives Company, New York, 1922. [LINK]

Memoirs of Lucas County and the City of Toledo: From the Earliest Historical Times Down to the Present, Including a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Representative Families, Volume II. Harvey Scribner, Editor-in-Chief. Western Historical Association, Madison, Wisconsin, 1910. Accessible at

The Polycrest, Vol. I, No. 1, editor-in-chief Albert E. Hinsdale, A.B., M.D. The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, July 1915. Accessible at

Proceedings of the Forty-First Annual Convention of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association, edited by Harriet Taylor Upton. The Association, Washington, D.C., 1910. Accessible at;view=1up;seq=12.

Proceedings of the Forty-Second Annual Convention of the National-American Woman Suffrage Association, edited by Harriet Taylor Upton. NAWSA Headquarters, New York, 1911. Accessible at;view=1up;seq=4.

"Woman and Her Work Clubs," The Plain Dealer, p. 3, November 6, 1910.

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