Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Dr. Lucy Madana Fuller DeHart, 1840-1911
By Destiny Krause, student, SUNY Old Westbury
Faculty Supervisor Carol Quirke
President: New Jersey Women's Suffrage Association, President: Political Study Club of Jersey City
Dr. Lucy Madana Fuller DeHart was one of the nation's first women physicians. Lucy Madana Fuller, one of seven children, was born on September 4, 1840 in Northbridge, Massachusetts to Lydia Tuel Batcheller Fuller and Levi Fuller. She attended school in Fergusonville, NY and briefly taught school before beginning her studies at the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women. In 1868 she graduated with a degree in homeopathic medicine. Then in 1869 she married John DeHart (1837-1914), a Princeton law graduate. The couple opened their respective practices in 1869 in Jersey City, New Jersey. They lived at 99 Mercer St in Jersey City and had five children. She died on June 22, 1911 and is buried in Mount Freedom Cemetery in Morris County, New Jersey along with her husband John.
According to the publication New Jersey Medicine, Dr. DeHart was the first woman physician in Jersey City. John DeHart's sister, Sarah, was also a medical doctor. Their work was noted in the book, Daughters of America or Women of the Century, which stated that the two sisters-in-law "shared one office for many years, and won universal respect as practitioners." Dr. DeHart wrote an essay for the Medical and Surgical Reporter addressing gender bias in women's health care. In it, she criticized male physicians who put men's sexual needs ahead of women's, specifically the effects of syphilis upon a marriage, and derided physicians who blamed women's dress for various gynecological problems. An advocate for birth control, she gave public lectures on education and preventative hygiene. One of her daughters, Florence, also became a physician.
Dr. DeHart played a significant role in New Jersey's suffrage movement by giving public lectures on suffrage and holding several elected positions. Her involvement began in 1899 when she acted as recording secretary pro tem at the November annual meeting of the New Jersey Woman Suffrage Association (NJWSA). In addition that year, she was the chair of the NJWSA Press Committee. She was the president of the Political Study Club of Jersey City and while serving in that capacity, she spoke to the NJWSA at its state convention in 1904. In 1907 she was elected to the presidency of the NJWSA and served in this capacity for one year. According to the Bridgewater Courier News, Dr. DeHart was elected to the Board of the NJWSA in 1908, a position she held for two years. In 1911, she attended the National Women's Suffrage Association Convention in Kentucky and served on the National Executive Committee.
Dr. DeHart was involved in other organizations. In 1904, Dr. Dehart was nominated to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the State House of Girls, an orphanage which educated girls. She was also part of a reform campaign to provide the young girls a solid public school education including vocational training and recreational activities, according to the New Brunswick Home News. A community civic club was named in her honor, the Dehart Civic Club in Jersey City.
Dodyk, Delight W., "Education and Agitation: The Woman Suffrage Movement in New Jersey," (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Rutgers University, 1997). p. 631.
Hanaford, Phebe Ann. Daughters of America Or Women of the Century, (Augusta, ME: True and Co, 1883), p. 555.
Dehart, Madana, "An Ethical View of a Medical Question," Medical and Surgical Reporter 72, n. 6. February 9, 1895, pgs. 186-188.
Haycock, C.E. "Early Women Physicians of New Jersey," New Jersey Medicine, 90, (1993), pp. 38-40.
"Governor Names New Trustees for Girls Home," New Brunswick Home News, March, 2 1904, p. 1.
"Hats Make Girls Happy," New Brunswick Home News, May 18, 1904, pp. 1, 8.
"Mrs. Hall President," Bridgewater Courier-News November 21, 1908, p. 1.
"Sea Girt Woman is Prominent Suffragette," Asbury Park Press, November 4, 1910, p. 2.
"Obituary," New York Times, June 24, 1911, p. 9.
"Deaths," Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey, v. 8, no. 3 (August 1911), p. 154.