Biographical Sketch of Suzanne "Susie" Isabelle Doty Hanson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Suzanne "Susie" Isabelle Doty Hanson, 1866-1955

President, Montpelier Woman's Club; President, Montpelier District Y.W.C.A.; State Regent, Vermont Daughters of the American Revolution; Recording Secretary, Women's Home Missionary Society; Member, Committee of Arrangements, Vermont Equal Suffrage Association

By Amanda Ritter-Maggio, Associate Professor of English, Texarkana College, Texarkana, TX

Suzanne Isabelle Doty was born in March 1866 in Bradford, Vermont to Abner Doty, a physician, and his wife, Susan Ellen Carter Doty. She had three sisters, Katherine Jennie "Kate," Minnie, and Marion. By the time Suzanne was in her early twenties, both her parents and sisters Katherine and Minnie had died. Suzanne and Marion were left to share a sizable inheritance, which included several properties in Vermont.

Suzanne graduated from Bradford Academy. She worked as a teacher at a girls' school in Richmond, Virginia during the winters while spending summers in Vermont. In the early 1890s, Suzanne, suffering from poor health, traveled to Michigan and then to California with Dr. Lester W. Hanson, a noted eye, ear, nose, and throat specialist, and his wife, Emma, in hopes that the sunny western climate would help improve Suzanne's health.

By 1900, she moved to Effingham, Illinois to attend the Illinois College of Photography. The college's 1905 catalog asserted that photography was "a neat advocation for women" and that women's "natural delicacy of touch" made them innately apt at developing negatives and retouching photographs. Suzanne opened a photography studio on College Street in Burlington, Vermont in 1901. She also worked as a photography instructor for the Lake Champlain-Chautauqua School of Methods in Burlington. In 1905, she served on the board of directors for the Home for Friendless Women in Burlington. The 1910 census finds Suzanne back in Montpelier, Vermont, working as a teacher.

On April 10, 1913, Suzanne married Dr. Lester Hanson, who by then had been a widower for five years and had two grown children. In addition to his work as a physician, Dr. Hanson was a two-time Vermont candidate for governor on the Prohibition ticket. The couple made their home in Montpelier, where Dr. Hanson operated a busy medical practice.

Suzanne was active in several Montpelier clubs and organizations, including those which advocated for woman suffrage. In 1919, she served on the Vermont Equal Suffrage Association's Committee of Arrangements. According to noted Vermont suffragist Ann Batchelder, Suzanne helped plan a suffrage parade, picketing of the Vermont state capitol building, and a meeting with the governor, which took place on April 21, 1919. In 1923, Suzanne joined with many other local women who opposed a movement by the Vermont state legislature to repeal the previous year's primary election and return to the old caucus system. The women claimed that the goal of the bill was to disenfranchise them. At a public hearing before the House Committee on Suffrage and Election on January 25, 1923, Suzanne read aloud a letter from Dorothy Canfield Fisher, supported by the State Federation of Women's Clubs, The Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Young Women's Christian Association, the Vermont League of Women Voters, the Colonial Dames, and the Parent-Teacher Association. In reaction to the letter, one representative remarked that he understood "why the women 'look cross-eyed at the men at this time. The women have just got the vote and see plain sailing ahead, and now they are asked to go back on the old boat sailed by politicians.'"

Suzanne was elected Vermont State Regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1921; President of the Montpelier Woman's Club in 1922; President of Montpelier District Y.W.C.A in 1925; and served as Recording Secretary of the Women's Home Missionary Society in Montpelier. She remained active within the Vermont Federation of Women's Clubs through the 1930s and ran a variety store in Montpelier for several years. After her husband died in 1924, Suzanne lived with a business partner, Nellie Jeffrey, in Groton, Vermont. During World War II, she served on Groton's local defense council.

Suzanne Doty Hanson died on October 1, 1955 and is buried in Darling Family Cemetery in Groton.


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"Bradford." The United Opinion [Bradford, Vermont] 10 June 1921.,

Batchelder, Ann. "The Green Mountain Girls." The Woman Citizen, 07 June 1919.

Donaldson, Delaine. "Effingham's Illinois College of Photography." Effingham Daily News 18 June 2018.

"Dr. L. W. Hanson is Dead at 79." The Burlington Free Press 27 October 1924.,

Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed 22 June 2021), memorial page for Susanne Isabelle Doty Hanson (Mar 1866-1 Oct 1955), Find a Grave Memorial ID 136779268, citing Darling Family Cemetery, Groton, Caledonia County, Vermont, USA ; Maintained by T James Ranney (contributor 49414036).

"Grafton County." Vermont Journal 05 January 1901.,

"Groton." The Barre Daily Times 26 December 1942.,

"Hanson-Doty Wedding." The Barre Daily Times 11 April 1913.,

Illinois College of Photography, 1905-1906.,

"Montpelier District, Y.W.C.A, Met in Barre." The Barre Daily Times 10 November 1925.,

"Mrs. L.W. Hanson Heads D.A.R." The Barre Daily Times 07 June 1921.,

"Next Meeting Will Be Held in Northfield." Montpelier Evening Argus 02 November 1917.,

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"United States Census, 1870", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 29 May 2021), Susie I Doty in entry for Abner A Doty, 1870.

"United States Census, 1940." Database with images. FamilySearch. : 14 June 2021. Citing Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012.

"Vermont Vital Records, 1760-2008," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 6 December 2014), Lector W Hanson and Susanne Isabelle Doty, Marriage, 10 Apr 1913, Montpelier, Washington, Vermont, United States; from "Vermont, Birth Records, 1909-2008," "Vermont, Death Records, 1909-2008," "Vermont, Marriage Records, 1909-2008," and "Vermont, Vital Records, 1720-1908." Ancestry ( : 2010); citing Vital Records Office, Vermont Department of Health, Burlington and New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston.

"Vermont Women Protest against Repeal of Primary." The Burlington Free Press 26 January 1923.,

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