Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Dorothy Harnden, 1867-1958

By Mikaela Stone, student, UC Santa Barbara, Goleta, California.

Vice President, Equal Suffrage League of San Francisco; Auditor, Equal Suffrage League of San Francisco, Recording Secretary, California Woman Suffrage Association; Committee of Courtesies and Finance, Annual Women's Convention, California Woman Suffrage Association; Secretary Forestry Section, California Club; Legislative Committee, California Club; Recording Secretary, Oakland Equal Suffrage Amendment League

Dorothy Hodgman was born Laura Mary Hodgman to Edwin Comely Hodgman and Laura F. Ferguson on October 18, 1867, in St. Louis, Missouri. While she called herself Laura on official documents, she went by Dorothy for much of her life. She is listed as being in residence at Lindenwood College for Women in St. Louis from 1882-1883, the college her sister, suffragist Josefa Tolhurst attended as well. The family moved to California in 1887, and Dorothy Hodgman married Frederic William Harnden on May 12, 1890 in San Francisco. She died on June 4, 1958 in Alameda, California at the age of 90 years old.

Dorothy Harnden joined the California Club in 1898, as listed in the California Club yearbook - the first documented mention of her activism. As someone very active in club life, the events she attended are documented in multiple newspapers and club registries. More than a member, Dorothy Harnden was elected Recording Secretary of the California Woman Suffrage Association in 1899: a position she would continue to hold until 1901. Through the Association, she participated in yearly state conventions, including the State Convention of 1900, where she read a letter from Susan B. Anthony aloud to the congregation. While she remained involved in the Association following 1901, she began to take up leadership in the California Club in the year following as Secretary of the Forestry Section. She wrote an article for the 1902 club- sponsored text "Club Life," where she advocated for the defense of California forests and the education of foresters, writing "It is hoped that the public will show that it is awake to California's urgent need, and by help and encouragement make further progress possible."

In 1905, Harnden was elected Vice President of the newly formed Equal Suffrage League of San Francisco. As a society woman whose social exploits often appeared in San Francisco newspapers, her tactic was to promote the visibility of suffragists, and both as vice president in member, she would help to host conventions, debates, carnivals, and drop her husband's last name in protest. Amidst controversy, she helped to organize campaigns against the Sanford Bill, which would have only women vote on the matter of suffrage - a bill that Harnden and her allies believed would undermine equal suffrage.

California granted women's suffrage in 1911, the same year Dorothy Harnden was elected recording secretary of the Oakland Equal Suffrage Amendment League. Following this victory, she joined the executive committee set up by a coalition of suffrage organizations, whose goal was to maximize the impact of their newly granted vote.


"Argument Against Senate Constitutional Amendment No. 8," Prepared by J. B. Sanford, Chairmen of Democratic Caucus, 1911, accessible at

"California Women in Convention," The San Francisco Examiner, October 19, 1901; Library of the University of California: "Club Life," accessible at

"California Woman's Suffrage Association Opens Its Convention in San Francisco," San Francisco Chronicle, November 19, 1903

"Club Women Review the Work Accomplished During the Past Year with Satisfaction," San Francisco Call, June 3, 1907;

"E.C. Hodgman, Former County Recorder, Dies," Los Angeles Herald, March 26, 1910

"Equal Suffrage League Will Give Carnival," San Francisco Call, October 8, 1908; Harnden Family Tree,, accessed May 7, 2020

"First Skirmish in Ballot War Is Suffragettes', Sacramento Union, January 17, 1911; "In Woman's World," San Francisco Call, November 11, 1911

The History of Woman Suffrage," Volume VI, by Various, September 21, 2009, accessible at

Lindenwood College Bulletin, Vol. 110, No. 12, June 1937, accessible at

Mike Smith, grandson of Dorothy Harnden's sister; "News Notes," Los Angeles Herald, May 13, 1890; Nickname Dolly,,, accessed on April 10, 2020

"Oakland, Fruitvale, Berkeley, Alameda Suffrage," The San Francisco Examiner, April 10, 1911

" 'On Time' Is the Appeal of Local Clubdom," San Francisco Call, January 15, 1906

"Political Equality Club," San Francisco Chronicle, October 1, 1898

"Secretly in Favor of Woman's Suffrage," The San Francisco Examiner, December 15, 1900

"Social News," San Francisco Chronicle, April 30, 1905

"Suffrage Convention Concludes Its Work," San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 1900

"Suffragists Drop Husband's Names," San Francisco Call, October 3, 1908

"Suffragettes to Hold Convention," The Berkley Gazette, October 2, 1906

"Suffragists Will Canvass for Votes," San Francisco Call, June 9, 1911;

"Women Busy Lining Up for Crucial Vote," The Los Angeles Times, January 17, 1911;

"Woman Suffragists," The Sacramento Bee, November 9, 1899;

"Woman Suffragists Discuss Vital Topics in Convention," The San Francisco Call, October 19, 1901

"Yearbook of the California Club of California," 1906-1908, accessible at

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