Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Susan Hart Palmer Dyer, 1853-1921
By Emily Norton, Library Specialist, University of South Florida
Susan Hart Palmer was born on September 22, 1853, in Rochester, New York, to Oliver Hazzard Palmer and Susan Augusta Hart Palmer. She was one of five children. On March 31, 1875, in Manhattan, New York, she married US Naval Academy graduate George Leland Dyer, who became a naval commander and the Governor of Guam from 1904 to 1905. The couple had three children, George, Dorothy, and Susan. Their daughter, Susan "Daisy" Dyer, was an accomplished musician and composer who also participated in the suffrage movement. The family traveled extensively due to George Dyer's military career, including to Cuba, Spain, Germany, the West Indies, Guam, and the Philippines. While stationed in Guam, Mrs. Dyer advocated for educational opportunities for the native children and worked to establish a local hospital for women and children. When stationed in Washington, DC, Dyer participated in the Cobweb Club, a women's literary organization. She attended lectures by Susan B. Anthony and Clara Barton and met with government officials on behalf of the women's suffrage movement.
In 1908, upon George's retirement from the Navy, the Dyers settled permanently in Winter Park, Florida, at their estate, the Anchorage. Dyer became more active in the suffrage movement, both locally and nationally. In 1914, she was elected vice president of the Florida Equal Suffrage Association. She served as a delegate for the Florida Equal Suffrage Association to the National Suffrage Convention in Washington, DC, in 1915. As the chairwoman of the local women's committee of the State Council of Defense, she worked to raise funds for the Young Women's Christian Association. She spoke at the Women's Department of Food Administration meeting in order to promote education about food handling safety and food security. Dyer was elected president of the Woman's Club of Winter Park in 1918, and she served as president until her death in 1921. As president, she created a committee of the club dedicated to women's suffrage and sent a petition to the Florida legislature advocating for women's voting rights. In 1919, several members of the Woman's Club of Winter Park voted in a municipal election despite it being illegal for women to vote at that time.
Dyer died February 21, 1921, in Winter Park, at the age of 68, and is buried with her husband in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
Guide to the George Leland Dyer Papers, 1783-1930. East Carolina Manuscript Collection. J.Y. Joyner Library, East Carolina University. Greenville, NC.
Harper, Ida Husted, et al., eds. The History of Woman Suffrage. Vol. VI (1900-1920). N.p.: National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1922, p. 116.
"Meeting of Woman's Food Committee was a Decided Success." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida), July 11, 1918.
"Mrs. Susan Hart Dyer Dead." Evening Star (Washington, DC), February 22, 1921).
Obituary for Susan Hart Dyer. The Baltimore Sun (Baltimore, Maryland), February 21, 1921.
"Orlando Ladies to Attend Great Suffrage Conferences this Month." Orlando Evening Star (Orlando, Florida), December 9, 1915.
"Suffrage Association Elects Officers for the Coming Year." The Miami News (Miami, Florida), December 11, 1914.
"Suffrage Convention Opens in Washington." The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida), December 14, 1915.
"Y.W.C.A. Drive in Winter Park." The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Florida), December 6, 1917.