Biographical Sketch of Anna Mercy Dondo

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of (Dr.) Anna Mercy Dondo, 1890-1977

By L:inda Brigance, Professor Emeritus, SUNY Fredonia

Anna Mercy was born on May 8, 1890 in Austria to Jacob and Francis Mercy. She and her younger sister Henrietta immigrated to the U.S. with their parents in 1897 and settled in the borough of Manhattan in New York City. As a young woman she was a general practice dentist with her own office.

Mercy was a prominent and visible suffrage leader during the period 1908-1913. During this time she served as President of the Eastside Equal Rights League. Numerous newspapers reported about her speaking engagements, lectures, street rallies, and attendance at state and national woman suffrage conferences. During the height of her suffrage work, the New York Herald called Anna Mercy, "the chief of the militant maids and matrons of the Third District" and the New York Tribune called her "a modern Joan of Arc." She was often accompanied by her sister, Henrietta Mercy, and Harlem Equal Rights League president, Maud Malone. In 1909 the three were arrested when police broke up an outdoor rally. Police ordered Anna Mercy to stop speaking to the crowd because they didn't have a permit to hold the rally. The New York Tribune reported "Miss Malone persisted, and the officer wedged his way forward and placed her under arrest."

In 1910 Anna and Henrietta were engaged in a public battle with 3rd District Assemblyman James Oliver. Henrietta charged that during a meeting with Oliver to solicit his support for a state suffrage bill, Oliver insulted her by failing to remove his hat and telling her to hug and kiss legislators if she wanted their support. Oliver denied Henrietta's account of the meeting and pro-suffrage women's groups called for his resignation. The battle played out in the front pages of New York newspapers ("Girls Attack James Oliver: Mercy Sisters berate him in his own district") and was picked up by papers across the country.

On June 14, 1913 Anna Mercy married Mathurin Marius Dondo, a French native who was pursuing his Ph.D. and teaching at Columbia University. After her marriage, little was documented about Anna ‘s life beyond that of a faculty wife. After moving around and traveling abroad for several years, the couple settled in California where Dondo taught French language and literature at the University of California from 1922 to 1948. In the 1929 UC-Berkeley yearbook, Anna Dondo is listed as a "graduate" member of Pi Lambda Theta, the National Educational Women's Honor Society. This organization offers membership to "current educators or education professionals/support staff" as well as "undergraduate sophomores, recent graduates, or graduate students who intend to pursue a career in education."

After her husband's retirement, Anna and Mathurin moved to Hawaii. UC-Berkeley reported their life in Hawaii was "idyllic" and their marriage "one of exceptional strength and graciousness" until Mathurin fell ill in the mid 1960's after which he was cared for by a "devoted wife." He died in Maui on August 30, 1968. Anna remained in Hawaii and died in Honolulu in January 1977 at the age of 86. There is no record of the couple having any children.

Sources:

"To Go To State Convention." 20 October 1909. Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, p. 13.

"Maud Malone, Martyr." 20 June 1909, New York Tribune, p. 7.

"No Mercy There." 12 March 1910. New York Tribune, p 3. Retrieved from

"Mathurin Marius Dondo, French: Berkeley." 1969, University of California: In Memoriam—an obituary of Anna Mercy Dondo's husband.#x200eRetrieved from: http://texts.cdlib.org/view?docId=hb229003hz;NAAN=13030&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=div00018&toc.depth=1&toc.id=&brand=calisphere

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