Doris Stevens (1892-1963) circa 1917/1918
Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Doris graduated from Oberlin College and worked as a teacher before becoming an organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association.
Doris was a founding member of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage in 1913 and worked as an organizer for the group. Other founding members included Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Mabel Vernon, Olympia Brown, Mary Ritter Beard, Belle Case La Follette, Helen Keller, Maria Montessori, Dorothy Day and Crystal Eastman.
In 1916, the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage became the National Woman’s Party. Doris was the youngest member of the party’s national executive committee. More militant than Carrie Chapman Catt’s National American Woman Suffrage Association, the National Woman’s Party took inspiration from the Women’s Social and Political Union in Britain.
Picketing the president for his inaction on the suffrage question was a central activity of the National Woman’s Party. Doris was arrested for picketing in 1917 and served three days of a 60 day sentence at Occoquan Workhouse before being pardoned. Doris was again arrested in 1919 when she was part of a demonstration at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City. These experiences would inform Jailed for Freedom, her landmark 1920 book on the suffrage movement.
Doris split from the National Woman’s Party in 1947 because she objected to the party’s focus on international rights over domestic organizing. She became involved in the Lucy Stone League, an organization that supported the right of women to retain their birth names after marriage. Doris herself retained her birth name through two marriages.
Doris passed away in 1963 at the age of 70.