Biographical Sketch of Constance (Mrs. Robert A.) Dean

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Constance (Mrs. Robert A.) Dean, 1880-?

By Alyse Yeargen, Graduate Student in Public History, UC Irvine

Member Daughters of the American Revolution; Women's Heney Club; San Francisco Branch of Women's Suffrage Party; Secretary of the Equal Suffrage League; chair of the San Francisco Housewives' League

Mrs. Robert A. Dean, née Constance V. Lawrence, was the daughter of lawyer and Mariposa Gazette editor James H. Lawrence. In June of 1904 she was wed to Robert A. Dean, son of Peter Dean, President of the Society of California Pioneers. Before and after her marriage, Mrs. Dean was a resident of San Francisco where she was a prominent socialite before becoming active in many community and political action groups. Mrs. Dean was a registered member of the Daughters of the American Revolution. She worked as a journalist for the San Francisco Call, publishing under the name Constance Lawrence Dean. In 1906, in the aftermath of the great San Francisco earthquake, Dean went undercover as "Margaret Jennings" to live for a week in the refugee camps. The report, which ran on July 16, 1906, argued that San Francisco Relief and Red Cross Fund's response to the disaster had been "snarled by red tape."

In 1909, in addition to graduating with her Bachelor's degree in Law from the University of California, Constance Dean became involved in the suffrage movement as an organizing member of the Women's Heney Club, a committee working to elect Francis Heney for District Attorney. She is most widely noted for serving on the Central Campaign committee concerned with women's suffrage, created in 1911 in anticipation of the coming election. Mrs. Dean was named representative for the San Francisco branch of the Women Suffrage Party. During this period she exchanged many letters with Carrie Chapman Catt and Kathrine Philips Edson. These letters are now part of the Kathrine Philips Edson Papers archived at UCLA Special Collections.

Lauded for her skill as an orator, Mrs. Dean spoke publicly on many occasions in the San Francisco Bay Area on behalf of the suffrage cause from 1910 to 1916. In 1910, Mrs. Dean spoke at the fourth annual Thanksgiving Banquet in San Francisco where she also represented the Women Suffrage Party in an effort to raise votes. In March of 1911 Mrs. Dean spoke before the Woman Suffrage Party of San Francisco to present a resolution, which was unanimously adopted by the party, and then presented it to the then Governor of California, Hiram Johnson. While also acting as Secretary of the Equal Suffrage League in August of 1911, she and Miss Margaret Haley of Chicago gave speeches in Roseville, California. Their talks addressed legislation their organizations wished to pass with the right to vote. Among their goals were improved women's working conditions and stronger child labor laws. According to the report in the Sacramento Union, after introducing the speakers and listening to their talks, Mayor Mott intended to bring a branch of the Equal Suffrage League to Roseville as well. Mrs. Dean went on to speak on several occasions during the 1916 Presidential campaign in support of Woodrow Wilson. Later in the same year, Mrs. Dean acted as chair for a committee that planned to have a specially designated train to convey Democratic women to Washington for the President's inauguration.

In 1919, Mrs. Dean continued to work as an activist for causes outside the suffrage movement. As temporary chair of the San Francisco Housewives' League, Mrs. Dean rallied for swift punishment for profiteering and organized a "unification of housewives' organizations," which would include all of the housewives' associations in the city of San Francisco, in order to "combat the high cost of living" and pressure delegates into action against profiteers. In May 1914 she and her husband had one daughter, Constance R. Dean Armitage Antonsen. Their daughter went on to become Professor of Art History at Wofford College as well as a world class fencing instructor, after using her fluency in German (and 12 other languages) to work undercover for US Naval Intelligence during the Second World War. Constance Lawrence Dean's work towards both the suffrage movement and other social justice concerns, while not widely noted in scholarship on the suffrage movement, were contemporaneously lauded by local San Francisco newspapers and surely felt by the people of San Francisco.


Directory of Graduates of the University of California , 1864-1916 California Alumni Association University of California, Berkeley 1916. Pg. 129 accessed 12 August 2019

Harper, Ida Husted, ed. The History of Woman Suffrage vol. 6. New York: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 46. [LINK]

Henderson, Andrea. "The Human Geography of Catastrophe: Family Bonds, Community Ties, and Disaster Relief After the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire". Southern California Quarterly, 88 No. 1 (Spring 2006) 37-70.

Lawrence, James H. Join California: Election History for the State of California. accessed 12 August 2019.

Los Angeles Herald, vol. 41 no. 28 (4 December 1919). California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

Marin Journal vol. 45 no. 17. 30 June 1904 California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

Mariposa Gazette vol. 5 no. 9 7 May 1904 California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

Mill Valley Record, Vol. 18 no. 41 (2 December 1916) California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

Moody, Martha L. Lineage Book National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution vol. 52 1905. pg. 314. accessed 13 August 2019

Neis, Emily. "Conflicting Definitions of Relief: Life in Refugee Camps after the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906," Voces Novae, vol. 6 (2018): 74,75. acessed 12 August 2019

Sacramento Union, vol. 160 no. 57 (26 August 1911) California Digital Newspaper Collection Accessed 12 August 2019

Sacramento Union, (4 December 1919) California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

San Francisco Call vol. 100 no. 46 16 July 1906 California Digital Newspaper Collection;d=SFC19060716.2.2&srpos=1&e=-------en--20-SFC-1--txt-txIN-The+True+Story+of+%27Margaret+Jennings%2c+Refugee------- accessed 13 August 2019

San Francisco Call vol. 106 no. 83 22 August 1909. California Digital Newspaper Collection Accessed 13 August 2019

San Francisco Call Vol. 108 no. 169 16 November 1910. California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 12 August 2019

UC Berkeley Bancroft Library, Hiram Johnson Platform BANC MSS C-B 581 Pt.I Box 12 Acessed 12 August 2019

Constance Dean Armitage Anderson, Obiturary, first published in the Spartanburg Herald Journal, Jan. 10-12, 2010. accessed 12 August 2019

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