Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Lillian Woolson [Mrs. Harry] Hayward, 1868-1938

By Anne M. Boylan, University of Delaware

Teacher, Women's Club Leader, and Suffragist

Mrs. Harry Hayward was born Lillian Woolson in Fitchburg, Worcester County, Massachusetts, on August 24, 1868, the younger daughter of Isaac and Mary Ann Dunbar Woolson, both of whom were originally from New Hampshire. Her father, a Civil War veteran, worked first as a machinist in Fitchburg and later as a master baker in Boston. Lillian and her sister Clara grew up imbued with a sense of pride in their family's history. Both joined the Daughters of the American Revolution and Clara, after training in Boston as a teacher of elocution and living at a city settlement house, spent over a decade instructing students in oratory and drama at Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, an historically black institution.

Upon graduation from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts in 1894, Lillian took a position as a teacher of mathematics in Boston, where both her parents and her sister lived. There, in 1897, she married Harry Hayward of Rockport, New York, an agronomist with a specialty in animal husbandry. Their only child, Mary Frances Hayward (Smith), was born in Gill, Massachusetts, in June 1905. Mary Frances later attended Smith College, graduating in 1928, then took her medical degree from Boston University in 1943.

In October, 1906, the Haywards came to live in the college town of Newark, Delaware, when Harry Hayward became director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Experimental Station and a faculty member at the all-male (and all-white) Delaware College, a land grant institution. He soon became dean of the school of agriculture. The couple lived in the Edward R. Wilson house, a historic dwelling located on the college's farm, and attended a local Presbyterian Church. In Newark, while carrying out the duties expected of a dean's wife, Lillian Hayward immersed herself in women's club work, particularly that of the Newark New Century Club. She served as club president in 1915-1916. By 1913, she was participating in state-wide activities of the Delaware Federation of Women's Clubs and attending state-wide regional meetings of the General Federation of Women's Clubs. At such events, as well as at conventions of the Delaware Woman's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), she honed her speaking skills.

She also became acquainted with Emalea Pusey Warner, a suffragist and stalwart within the state's white women's club circles. Warner was spearheading the effort of Delaware's women's clubs to create a Women's College, to be affiliated with Delaware College. There can be little doubt that the work clubwomen did to support the creation of Delaware Women's College--lobbying, fund-raising, mobilizing support, campaigning--provided useful lessons in political advocacy. In 1911 and 1912, Lillian Hayward gave public addresses in Newark on the need for a women's college. With a charter and financial support from the state legislature, the College opened in fall, 1914.

Political advocacy on behalf of suffrage, however, was anathema to the membership of the Newark New Century Club and other white women's clubs in Delaware. With anti-suffragists as well as suffragists in their ranks, the clubs maintained a policy of strict neutrality on the suffrage question. Still, the club hosted Mabel Vernon for a January, 1915 lecture; it elicited "discussion and many questions." Other local groups to which Lillian Hayward belonged did endorse "votes for women": the state WCTU in 1888 and the Delaware State Grange (a farm advocacy group) in 1896.

In spring, 1914, as suffragists from across Delaware were gearing up for the state's first major suffrage parade, to be held in Wilmington on May 2, Lillian Hayward held a "parlor meeting" at her home, with the parade's main organizer, Florence Bayard Hilles, as the guest speaker. The Congressional Union, Hilles's organization, claimed thirty "converts" as a result. Lillian herself had been attending suffrage meetings since 1912, and in 1913, as the state legislature was debating a suffrage amendment to the state's constitution, she was one of several speakers (including NAWSA's Anna Howard Shaw) who gave three-minute addresses to the elected officials. Newark lacked an organized association affiliated with the NAWSA-affiliated Delaware Equal Suffrage Association (DESA), however, until October, 1919 when the state's suffragists were lobbying the governor to call a special legislative session to consider ratifying the 19th Amendment. Hayward became the Newark Equal Suffrage Association's president and was chosen to attend DESA's convention, scheduled to meet in Dover in November.

Then, in a development that threw her Delaware suffrage work and future plans into complete disarray, Harry Hayward resigned as dean of the Delaware College agriculture school. Coming as it did in December, 1919, Harry's resignation raised questions and speculation on the campus and in the pages of the Wilmington newspapers. Ostensibly, he had simply taken a new, well-paying position with a firm in Philadelphia; he, Lillian, and Mary Frances would move to a farm outside the city. In actuality, although the details remain obscure (and key documents from college trustees meetings are missing), Harry Hayward had clashed with the College's president, Samuel Chiles Mitchell, over the nature, extent, and limits of Hayward's authority over the experimental station's staff and the agriculture school's teaching faculty. The sudden development led to calls from alumni for an investigation; a petition signed by scores of students asked for Hayward's reinstatement. But it was to no avail. The trustees took Mitchell's side against the dean; Mitchell himself resigned as president in 1920, but by then the Haywards were gone. No extant statement from Lillian Hayward reveals her reaction to the precipitous developments, but she and Harry were given several farewell receptions by colleagues and co-workers, including members of the Delaware Grange.

After the family's move to Pennsylvania, Lillian Hayward continued to exchange visits with Delaware friends, including Emalea Pusey Warner. Harry Hayward died of heart disease in 1932; Lillian's death of the same ailment occurred in 1938. Her cremated remains were interred in the Chelten Hills Cemetery, Philadelphia.


Genealogical information on the Woolson and Hayward families can be gleaned from the vital records, decennial censuses, and genealogical materials found on and Local newspapers digitized via and, along with documents available on offer useful details on Lillian Hayward's suffrage work, civic commitments, and personal life. The following obituaries provided helpful details: "Harry Hayward, 13 Years Dean at U. of D., Dies," Wilmington Evening Journal, May 5, 1932, pp. 1, 10; "Former U. of D. Dean Dies at Devon Home," Wilmington Morning News, May 5, 1932, p. 2; "Dr. Mary Smith, 82," Boston Globe, November 29, 1987, p. 83.

The papers of the Newark New Century Club at the University of Delaware Library's Special Collections Department (MSS #260) include material on her roles in the club.

The following secondary works provide significant context on Lillian and Harry Hayward's life in Newark and on Delaware's suffrage story in general: Carol E. Hoffecker, Beneath Thy Guiding Hand: A History of Women at the University of Delaware (Newark, Del.: University of Delaware, 1994); John A. Munroe, The University of Delaware: A History:

Mary R. de Vou, "The Woman Suffrage Movement in Delaware," in Delaware: A History of the First State, ed. H. Clay Reed and Marion Bjornson Reed (New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, 1947), I: 349-70; and Carol E. Hoffecker, "Delaware's Woman Suffrage Campaign," Delaware History, 20:3 (Spring-Summer, 1983): 149-67.

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