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Doris Stevens (October 26, 1888 – March 22, 1963) was an American suffragist, woman's legal rights advocate and author. She was the first female member of the American Institute of International Law and first chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women. She was a member of the Heterodoxy Club.
Born in 1888 in Omaha, Nebraska, Stevens became involved in the fight for suffrage while a college student at Oberlin College. After graduating with a degree in sociology in 1911, she taught briefly before becoming a paid regional organizer for the National American Woman Suffrage Association's Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CUWS). When the CUWS broke from the parent organization in 1914, Stevens became the national strategist. She was in charge of coordinating the women's congress, held at the Panama Pacific Exposition in 1915. When the CUWS became the National Woman's Party (NWP) in 1916, Stevens organized party delegates for each of the 435 Congressional Districts in an effort to attain national women's enfranchisement and defeat candidates who were opposed to women's rights. Between 1917 and 1919, Stevens was a prominent participant in the Silent Sentinels vigil at Woodrow Wilson's White House to urge the passage of a constitutional amendment for women's voting rights and was arrested several times for her involvement. After the 19th Amendment secured women's right to vote, she wrote a book, titled Jailed for Freedom (1920), which recounted the sentinel's ordeals.
Stevens met her first husband, Dudley Field Malone, when he represented her for her protest in front of the White House. He had been serving as an Assistant Secretary of State in the Wilson cabinet, but was converted to the suffragist cause and resigned his post. He appeared with Stevens at fundraising events and helped raise thousands of dollars for their cause, which was gaining momentum, as President Wilson finally endorsed enfranchisement. On 5 December 1921 in Peekskill, New York, Stevens and Malone were secretly married by a hardware store owner who was a Justice of the Peace and immediately sailed for their two-month honeymoon in Paris. Stevens announced she would not take Malone's name and would remain "Doris Stevens". From the middle of the 1920s, Stevens lived primarily in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, where she became friends with leading members of the Greenwich Village radical scene and bohemians, including Louise Bryant, Max and Crystal Eastman, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Reed, Ida Rauh, Inez Milholland, Floyd Dell and others. Stevens divorced Malone in 1929 after a string of infidelities on both sides and failed attempts at reconciliation.
Once the right to vote was secured, Stevens turned her attention to women's legal status. She supported passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and worked with Alice Paul from 1927–1933 on a volume of work comparing varying impact on law for women and men. The goal in compiling the data was to obtain an international law protecting women's right of citizenship. The research was completed with the help of feminists in 90 countries and evaluated laws controlling women's nationality from every country. Gaining approval for the work from the League of Nations in 1927, Stevens presented the proposal Pan American Union in 1928, convincing the governing body to create the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). In 1931, she joined the American Institute of International Law, becoming its first female member. In 1933, her work resulted in the first treaty to secure international rights for women. The Convention on the Nationality of Women e established that women retained their citizenship after marriage and Convention on Nationality provided that neither marriage nor divorce could affect the nationality of the members of a family, extending citizenship protection to children.
Ousted from the CIM in 1938, and the NWP in 1947 over policy disputes, Stevens became vice president of the Lucy Stone League in 1951, of which she had been a member since the 1920s. She fought the roll-back of policies removing the gains women had made to enter the work force during World War II and worked to establish feminism as an academic field of study. She continued fighting for feminist causes until her death in 1963.
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