Biographical Sketch of Rose L. Hizar (Mrs. William G.) Duggin

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Rose L. Hizar (Mrs. William G.) Duggin, 1884-1918

By Anne Boylan, Professor Emerita, University of Delaware

Suffragist, Clubwoman

In 1913, when Rose Duggin moved from California back to her native Delaware, she confronted a new reality: she had lost her right to vote. Described later as a “sturdy and energetic woman.” she was more than a little annoyed. After joining Delaware's Equal Suffrage Association and then becoming first vice-president in November, 1916, she took aim at the state's anti-suffragists. In May, 1917, soon after the anti-suffrage position had prevailed in the state legislature, where a constitutional amendment enfranchising women had once again gone down to defeat, she wrote a letter to a local newspaper. Invoking the “authority of one who for several years enjoyed the privilege of the franchise,” she employed sarcasm and flinty language to dissect and dismiss common anti-suffragist claims. Referring archly to the state's two most prominent women anti-suffragists, she refuted their contention that voting placed unnecessary burdens on women, that women voters would be “suffrage slackers,” and that in wartime woman suffrage would “weaken the nation.” Signing herself with her full name, Rose Lippincott Hizar Duggin, she declared that suffrage was simply “a right and a comfortable function” for women.

Born in Wilmington, Delaware, on April 23, 1884, Rose Duggin was the daughter of Mary Ella Truss Hizar and Lannes W. Hizar. In a baptismal ceremony at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Wilmington, they named the child after her maternal grandmother, Rosanna Lippincott Truss. The Truss family owned farmland in New Castle County, Delaware, and were able to send Rose's mother Ella to attend the Wesleyan Female College in Wilmington. For their part, the Hizars were prosperous and locally well known, with economic interests in the construction trades and in real estate, and political loyalties to the Republican Party (Rose's grandfather, Thomas B. Hizar, and his brother Aquilla had served in the Union Army during the Civil War).

When Rose was about eight years old, her parents moved to Minnesota, joining her paternal grandparents who had relocated to Duluth. Her family soon moved to Minneapolis, and then further west to San Francisco, California. The 1900 census found Rose, her parents, and her younger sister Margaret living on Harford Street in what is now the Castro District. Lannes Hizar may have been a restless soul, for he spent the first six months of the year 1900 travelling in search of business opportunities, first in the Klondike, in Alaska, and then in the Philippines, under the U.S. occupation after the Spanish-American war. In a letter to friends in Delaware, he extolled the opportunities for Americans in the Filipino mining and hardwood lumber businesses. Along the way, he echoed the imperialist views of many Americans of his day, arguing that U.S. forces should crush the on-going Filipino insurrection, and describing Filipinos as lazy and incapable of self-government.

In San Francisco, Rose Hizar completed her high school education at the Cogswell Polytechnic College, then entered the University of California at Berkeley as a member of the class of 1907. At some point between 1903 and 1907, the family moved to Berkeley, to a pleasant house on Leroy Avenue, from which Rose, and then Margaret (class of 1910), could walk to classes at the University.

At the University of California, Rose immersed herself in student affairs, organizing an election for the sophomore class officers, becoming editor-in-chief of the women's edition of the Women's Daily Pelican, a satirical student newspaper, and serving as vice-president and then president of the College's English Club, which published a monthly magazine, The Occident, and sponsored theatrical productions. Upon graduation with a B.S. degree, Rose joined the Association of Collegiate Alumnae, a predecessor organization to the American Association of University Women. Margaret followed in Rose's footsteps during her time at Berkeley, like her sister editing the Pelican. Soon after her own graduation, Margaret participated in Berkeley demonstrations supporting California's 1911suffrage referendum. With California women preparing to vote for the first time in 1912, Rose registered as a Republican, as did Margaret and their parents.

In 1910, Rose Hizar married William G. Duggin, a California native from San Bernardino and a University of California graduate (class of 1909). The couple went to housekeeping in Empalme, Sonora, Mexico, where William was working as private secretary to the general manager of the Southern Pacific Rail Lines. Empalme (“junction” in Spanish) was built and used primarily as a repair facility for the company; it was the second place in Mexico where William had spent time (from 1903 to 1905, he had worked as a stenographer in the Guaymas railroad office, about five miles from Empalme). Internal conflicts in Mexico following the Revolution of 1910 undoubtedly intruded upon the railroad company enclave in which Rose and William now lived. As her father had experienced in the Philippines in 1900, Rose now travelled and lived in a country undergoing political upheaval, some of it fostering border skirmishes and demands for U.S. intervention and even occupation.

Likely in response to these developments, Rose Duggin travelled to California in 1912 for the birth of her first child, William George Duggin, Jr. The couple then left Mexico permanently, relocating to Marshallton, outside Wilmington, Delaware, in 1913. There, on a farm that Rose's mother, Ella Truss Hizar, owned, the couple planned to experiment with raising chickens. The death of a second child, Samuel, ten days after his birth in March, 1916, along with a devastating fire while Rose was recuperating, shaped the couple's decision to abandon the farming experiment. William soon joined the Krebs Pigment and Chemical Company in nearby Newport, Delaware, becoming a manager and eventually vice-president. (The DuPont Company later acquired Krebs as its pigments division.)

By November, 1916, Rose Hizar Duggin was serving as the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association's vice-president. In that capacity, she, along with Mary Alexandra Ospina, attended a NAWSA Executive Committee meeting early in 1917, reporting back to the Delaware affiliate. In addition, she was vice-president of the Newport, Delaware, Equal Suffrage Association and an active member of the (town of) New Castle Century Club, for which she gave well-received talks on topics such as “Life in Mexico” and “California.” Her 1917 letter reflected the strength of her commitment to the suffrage cause. That summer, she became chair of the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association's Press Committee and began supplying a monthly “suffrage page” to the Wilmington Evening Journal. In November, she took an active role in the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association's annual convention.

By then, she was pregnant with her third child, a girl born on February 18, 1918. Four days later, at the age of thirty-three, Rose Duggin died of puerperal fever, a bacterial infection transmitted during childbirth. The child, initially named Mary Ann, was renamed Rose Hizar Duggin. Now a widower with three children (the couple had adopted a two-year-old whom they named Laura Virginia Duggin), William Duggin hired two housekeepers to care for them in the family's Newport house while he worked. A short two years later, on February 13, 1920, William Duggin died of influenza; he was buried with Rose at the Wilmington and Brandywine Cemetery. In his will, he set up trusts for the three children.

In the face of the family's tragedy, Rose's sister Margaret Hizar Best, who was now married to a physician and had two small children of her own (born in 1917 and 1920), took William, Jr., and Rose to live with her family in San Francisco. What became of Laura Virginia Duggin is unknown.


A photo of Rose Hizar as a student appeared in the Oakland Tribune, February 14, 1907, p. 10. A photo of Rose Hizar Duggin with her children William and Laura Virginia appeared in the Wilmington Evening Journal, June 30, 1917, p. 12.


Information on Rose Hizar Duggin, including genealogical details on the Truss, Hizar, and Duggin families, can be gleaned from the census, vital records, city directories, and voter registration files available via and William Duggin's 1919 passport application, found on, adds a few details about his career. His will, also available on Ancestry, details the trust arrangement for the Duggin children. School directories and histories found on are useful for tracing Rose and Margaret Hizar's careers at the University of California at Berkeley. In some sources, the Duggin name is misspelled Duggan or Dugan.

Local Delaware and California newspapers available via and are invaluable for understanding her family's story and Rose's suffrage activism. For her role in the Delaware Equal Suffrage Association, see especially the Equal Suffrage Association's Minutebook, 1916-1919, Mabel Lloyd Ridgely Collection, Woman Suffrage Records, Delaware Public Archives, #9200 R09, 002, Folder 1. A brief obituary spelling her surname “Dugan” appeared in the Wilmington Morning News, February 23, 1918, p. 2. A notice in the California Alumni Monthly, 13 (1920), 367, mentioned Margaret Hizar Best's adoption of the Duggin children.

Rose Duggin's letter to the editor of the Wilmington Evening Journal, entitled “When Suffragist Meets Anti Suffragist,” appeared on May 16, 1917, p. 2. Two articles mentioned her speaking engagements, Every Evening, January 22, 1916, p. 3; and ibid., October 23, 1917, p. 9. For Lannes Hizar's 1900 letter, “Life in Manila,” see Wilmington Morning News, July 25, 1900, p. 3.

These secondary works provide important contexts for Rose Hizar Duggin's suffrage activism: Mary R. de Vou, “The Woman Suffrage Movement in Delaware,” in Delaware: A History of the First State, ed. H. Clay Reed and Marion Björnson Reed (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947), I: 349-370; Carol E. Hoffecker, “Delaware's Woman Suffrage Campaign,” Delaware History, 20:3 (Spring-Summer, 1983): 149-67; Rebecca J. Mead, How the Vote was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914 (New York: New York University Press, 2004); and Alison Sneider, Suffragists in an Imperial Age: U.S. Expansion and the Woman Question, 1870-1920 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

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