Biographical Sketch of Adrienne (Mrs. Adona Alanson) Dennison

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Adrienne (Mrs. Adona Alanson) Dennison, 1868-1938

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

Vice President of the Oakland Branch of the California Equal Suffrage Association; Member of the Resolutions Committee of the California Equal Suffrage League

Mrs. A. A. Dennison, born Adrienne Mervy, married Adona Alanson Dennison in Oakland, California on December 9, 1893. They had two children: Alan Mervy Dennison, born 1895, and Adrienne M. Dennison, born 1898. Adrienne Dennision was very involved in local governance and events in the Oakland area. In December 1907 Dennison began serving as Vice President of the California Equal Suffrage Association's newly formed Oakland branch.

According to the December 1907 issue of Western Woman: Official Journal of the Washington and California Equal Suffrage Association, Mrs. A.A. Denison led the women of the Oakland Club in sending a petition to Mayor Mott asking him to call for a freeholders election to rewrite the Oakland charter in the spring of 1908. The resolution passed and as a result of these actions three women were also named to the city advisory board by Mayor Mott. The petition and the work of the Oakland Club was praised by the Oakland Enquirer, which cited it and the fact that many of its female petitioners were taxpayers who had rallied for many public works projects such as fundraising for ambulances, parks, libraries, drinking fountains, streetlights and trash cans, as evidence of the need for women's suffrage.

Later the same year Mrs. Dennison and her husband were both part of a demonstration that included a Suffrage Parade and a committee meeting at the Republican Convention. The suffragists submitted that women's suffrage be granted in the form of a Constitutional Amendment. According to the San Francisco Call, women's suffrage was turned down cold. Mrs. Dennison's husband spoke favorably of the rights of women before the committee only to be laughed at by the Republican committee members. He was the only man to speak for women's suffrage at the meeting. In November 1908, Mrs. Dennison went on to attend the California Equal Suffrage League's annual convention where she was elected to the resolutions committee and read the reports for Alameda county.

The California state suffrage amendment went to the voters on October 10, 1911. During this time, Mrs. A.A. Dennison worked under the direction of Mrs. Coolidge, who led the Oakland branch of the Amendment League. Mrs. Dennison was a well-known member of the Oakland community due, in part, to her husband's seat on the Chamber of Commerce, her own frequent involvement in women's clubs, such as the Ebell women's club, and participation in Oakland City Council meetings. Due to this involvement, Mrs. Dennison was a deeply valued presence among the 240 Amendment League members who stood at the polls for twelve hours to remind voters of their cause.

Sources: accessed 13 August 2019

Ida Husted Harper, et al., eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 6 (1922) [LINK].

San Francisco Call, 28 August 1908 California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 13 August 2019

San Francisco Call, 3 October 1908 California Digital Newspaper Collection accessed 13 August 2019

Simpson, Lee M. A. Selling the City: Gender, Class, and the California Growth Machine , 1880-1940 Stanford University Press: Stanford 2004.

Western Woman: Official Journal of the Washington and California Equal Suffrage Association Edited by Laura Bride Powers, Volume 1, Number 16 (December 1907) Western Women Publishing Co.: San Francisco. p.11. accessed 13 August 2019

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