Flora Dunlap

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Flora Dunlap was the president of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association, in 1913. She also headed the Roadside Settlement House, in Des Moines, Iowa. Flora was the first woman to ever serve on the Board of Education of Des Moines.[1] She was a friend of Jane Addams and a supporter of the Women's Suffrage Movement.


Flora was born in 1872 to Mary and Samuel W. Dunlap.[2] Growing up in Circleville, Ohio, she attended school in nearby Columbus.[2] She graduated from Cincinnati Wesleyan College, later earning herself an apprenticeship at the Kingsley Settlement House a year later.[2] Following the apprenticeship, Flora went on to live in the Goodrich House in Cleveland, as well as the Hull House in Chicago.[3] Dunlap found the widespread fame of the Hull House to be “…a stimulating, an absorbing, and a bewildering place in which to live and work.”[3] However, she wished to work in a smaller city rather than staying in Chicago despite her love for the establishment.[3] It was at that point that Jane Addams had referred Flora to the Roadside Settlement house in Des Moines.[2] Flora accepted the position of head resident at the Roadside Settlement House in 1904.[2] Flora had been offered to go to another house in the east, however Addams believed she would have more autonomy in the western area. The settlement was located in a commercial neighborhood, causing a decrease in clientele to serve.[3] Consequently, the settlement board voted to relocate the home to South Bottom near the Des Moines River.[3] Flora oversaw the construction of this three-story brick building.[3] The new home opened in 1906, and was regarded by Dunlap as one of her greatest achievements.[2] As the Roadside house became open to the public, Flora established several programs including sewing and cooking classes, as well as manual training and literary clubs.[3] Flora served as head resident of the Roadside Settlement House for two decades.[2] In 1912 Dunlap ran for the Des Moines school board. Flora's community involvement earned her the support of local women’s clubs who endorsed her candidacy and distributed her campaign advertisements in various local establishments. Dunlap successfully won the election earning herself the title of the first woman to ever serve on the board.[1] Unfortunately, after three years of serving Flora reported it was “the most unpleasant and most futile task” she had managed.[2] Dunlap concluded the board was not ready for women and neglected to run for re-election after complaining none of the other male members would speak or listen to her opinions.[2]  During this same time period, Flora served as legislative chair of the Iowa Federation of Women’s Clubs.[2] She was also an iconic leader of the women’s suffrage movement. In 1913 Flora won the presidency of the Iowa Equal Suffrage Association.[2] She held office for this position until 1916. During her three years of presidency, Dunlap took to the streets and visited 30 towns to hold educational open-air meetings.[2] In 1916 Flora also led a campaign in which an amendment to the state constitution was submitted to voters to allow women the right to vote. Flora also resigned her position at the Roadside Settlement House in September 1916, for reasons unclear.[2] She then headed the Neighborhood Guild House located in Brooklyn, New York.[2] During 1917 and 1918 Flora maintained the position of regional director of the girls division of the War Camp Community Service.[2] However, Flora once again returned to the Roadside Settlement in 1918, where she maintained head resident until 1924.  After resigning her position, Flora continued to remain involved as an active board member for the settlement house.[2] 

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  1. ^ a b Alice, Henry; Franklin, S.M.; Robins, Raymond, eds. (1912). "A Woman Board Member in Des Moines". Life and Labor. Chicago: The National Women's Trade Union League. Retrieved April 12, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "Dunlap, Flora – The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa -The University of Iowa". uipress.lib.uiowa.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Dunlap, Flora (January 1938). "Roadside Settlement of Des Moines". The Annals of Iowa. 21:3: 161–182.