Bullitt, Dorothy Stimson, 1892-1989

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Dorothy Stimson Bullitt was a Seattle broadcasting executive and civic leader, 1892-1989. She grew up in Seattle and in 1918 married attorney A. Scott Bullitt. After her husband's death, Dorothy Bullitt managed Stimson family real estate interests and in 1946 acquired a Seattle radio station, which she expanded into a regional radio and television network, the KING Broadcasting Company. Mrs. Bullitt and later her son, Stimson Bullitt, Ancil Payne, and Dorothy Bullitt's daughter, Priscilla "Patsy" Collins, were executives in the company and its board of directors until it was sold in 1992.

From the description of Dorothy Stimson Bullitt papers, 1933-1993. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 53012550

Dorothy Bullitt was a successful Seattle businesswoman who maintained a life-long interest in the arts and literature.

Bullitt's book collection includes works relating to late eighteenth century exploration. Notable explorers from this period included John Byron (1723-1786), Philip Carteret (circa 1738-1796), and Samuel Wallis (1728-1795) who each circumnavigated the globe in the 1760s and paved the way for exploration in the South Pacific by James Cook. Cook (1728-1779) had three expeditions. The first began in 1768 to the South Pacific, the second began in 1772 to Antarctica, and the last began in 1776 to the Pacific Northwest. John Meares (circa 1756-1809) was a fur trader who explored the Pacific Northwest and especially Nootka Sound in the 1780s. Nathaniel Portlock (circa 1748-1812) and George Dixon (circa 1755-1800) were also fur traders who explored the Pacific Northwest in the 1780s. George Vancouver (1757-1798) accompanied Cook on his second and third voyages and then commanded his own explorations in the Pacific Northwest and California in 1791-1795, including the Puget Sound area.

From the description of Bullitt collection on 18th century explorers, 1773-1798. (Western Washington University). WorldCat record id: 85442091

Dorothy Stimson Bullitt was born in Seattle on February 5, 1892 to C.D. Stimson and Harriet Overton Stimson. In 1932 Dorothy took over the family’s business dealings while increasingly becoming involved in civic matters and the arts, purchasing a radio and television station in the 1940s. She died in 1989. The books in the Dorothy Bullitt Collection on Cook and Vancouver Expeditions contain Harriet Stimson’s book plate, and were presumably inherited from her mother.

Although Captains Cook and Vancouver acquired greater fame, much of the groundwork for late eighteenth century exploration was laid by other British naval officers including Captains John Bryon (1723-1786), Philip Carteret (circa 1738-1796) and Samuel Wallis (1728-1795), who circumnavigated the globe in the 1760s.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779) commanded three British voyages. The first, beginning in 1768, was to look for a southern continent and the second journey, (1772-1775), took him to Antarctica. On his third expedition, beginning in 1776, Cook sought in vain for a "northwest passage” from Asia to Europe, and in doing so charted the coastline from Vancouver Island to the Bering Strait.

British naval officer John Meares (circa 1756-1809) became a captain in the merchant service in 1783. As founder of the Northwest American Company in India, he made two trips to the Pacific Northwest with the intention of initiating fur trade. On Meares’ second journey in 1788 he established a trading post in Nootka which was seized the following year by the Spanish.

Nathaniel Portlock (circa 1748-1817) was a member of Cook’s third voyage on the Discovery and in 1779 transferred to the Resolution with Vancouver. In 1785 he led an expedition to the Pacific Northwest organized by the King George’s Sound Company to establish a fur trade in the North Pacific. Captain George Dixon, also a member of Cook’s third voyage, accompanied Portlock on his 1785 expedition to the Pacific Northwest.

Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) was a member of Cook’s second voyage and was also aboard the Discovery, which accompanied the Resolution on Cook’s third voyage. In 1791 Vancouver was given command of the ship the Discovery (named in honor of Cook) to chart the Pacific Northwest coast and to help resolve the crisis precipitated by John Meares at Nootka. He remained on the coast or in the Sandwich Islands for three seasons until he sailed back to England 1795.

From the guide to the Bullitt collection on 18th Century Explorers, 1773-1798, (Western Washington University Heritage Resources)

Dorothy Stimson Bullitt was a broadcasting pioneer and Seattle, Washington, civic leader, 1892-1989. Her parents were Charles Douglas “C.D.” Stimson (1857-1929) – a leading figure in local lumber and real estate industries – and Harriet Overton Stimson (1862-1936) – an ex-music teacher and patron of the arts. Mrs. Bullitt grew up on First Hill in Seattle. She attended school at Briarcliffe Manor in New York from 1908 to 1911 and lived in New York City from 1913 to 1915. She returned to and lived in Seattle for a few years until her marriage in 1918 to Alexander Scott Bullitt (1877-1932), an attorney and politician from Louisville, Kentucky. For two years following their marriage, Scott and Dorothy Bullitt lived in Louisville but moved back to Seattle permanently in 1920.

In Seattle, Scott Bullitt worked alongside Dorothy Bullitt’s brother, Thomas Douglas Stimson (1884-1931), and her father in managing family business interests. Scott also continued his political career in Washington, running unsuccessfully in United States senate and gubernatorial races. Dorothy Bullitt herself remained on the sideline of family business, caring for her three children, Charles Stimson (“Stim,” 1919-), Dorothy Priscilla (“Patsy”/“Peach,” 1920-2003) and Harriet (1923- ). Dorothy Bullitt's father died in 1929 and her brother suffered a fatal airplane accident in 1931. The following year, Scott Bullitt became terminally ill with liver cancer and died on April 10, 1932. Following this string of tragedies, management of the Stimson Realty Company (later renamed the Bullitt Company) and other family affairs fell into Dorothy Bullitt’s hands.

Over the next decade, Dorothy Bullitt was occupied not only with the family businesses but also with various political and civic involvements. In 1932 she took her husband’s place as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. In 1933 she was appointed commissioner of the Washington Emergency Relief Commission, which approved funding for such projects as the Washington State Arboretum and the Grand Coulee Dam, and chaired the National Women’s Committee of the Mobilization for Human Needs. During World War II, Bullitt served in the Volunteer Detachment of the Seattle Civilian War Commission.

In 1946 Bullitt’s business career took a drastic turn as she acquired a Seattle radio station, applied for a broadcasting license, and incorporated her first broadcasting company, Western Waves. In 1947 the company changed its station’s call letters from KEVR to KING and reincorporated as King Broadcasting. In 1949 King Broadcasting purchased KRSC TV - the only television station in the Pacific Northwest - and began broadcasting as KING-TV, channel 5. In 1954 KING expanded into Portland, Oregon, with the purchase of KGW radio. The next year KING beat out Westinghouse for a Portland television license, and in 1957 bought AM and FM radio stations, as well as television stations in Spokane, Washington. Through the years, King Broadcasting was the leader in Pacific Northwest television, with emphases on children’s and educational programming, mobile television, and quality news and cultural programming.

Dorothy Bullitt served as president of King Broadcasting until 1962, when her son Stimson Bullitt took her place. In 1971 Stimson stepped down from the presidency, and Ancil Payne became chief executive officer, while Mrs. Bullitt and her daughters – Priscilla Collins and Harriet Bullitt – remained on the executive committee.

While building KING’s broadcasting empire, Dorothy Bullitt maintained a high level of civic involvement. She served on the National Association of Broadcasters Television Code Review Board from 1952 to 1956 and 1959 to 1963; the University of Washington Board of Regents from 1958 to 1965; and the Washington State Canal Commission from 1961 to 1967.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Bullitt won a number of awards for her many achievements, including a personal Peabody award for her contributions to the field of broadcasting, Seattle’s First Citizen award from the Seattle Real Estate Board, honorary degrees, and other accolades.

Dorothy Stimson Bullitt remained an active member of King Broadcasting’s executive committee until her retirement in 1988. She died in her home in Seattle on June 29th, 1989.

From the guide to the Dorothy Stimson Bullitt papers, 1933-1993, (University of Washington Libraries Special Collections)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Dorothy Stimson Bullitt papers, 1933-1993 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Richard J. Carbray papers, 1950-1994 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
creatorOf Sarton, George, 1884-1956. Letters to Dorothy Stimson Bullitt, 1901-1956. Houghton Library
referencedIn Mahoney, Willis. Willis E. Mahoney papers regarding a debt to Scott Bullitt [manuscript], 1931-1951. Oregon Historical Society Research Library
creatorOf Bullitt, Dorothy Stimson, 1892-1989. Dorothy Stimson Bullitt papers, 1933-1993. University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Bullitt, Dorothy Stimson, 1892-1989. Bullitt collection on 18th century explorers, 1773-1798. Western Washington University
creatorOf Bullitt collection on 18th Century Explorers, 1773-1798 Western Washington University Heritage Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Bullitt, A. Scott (Alexander Scott), 1878?-1932. person
associatedWith Bullitt family family
associatedWith Bullitt family family
associatedWith Bullitt, Stimson. person
associatedWith Byron, John, 1723-1786 person
associatedWith Byron, John, d1723-1786. person
associatedWith Carbray, Richard J. person
associatedWith Carteret, Philip, d. 1796 person
associatedWith Carteret, Philip, dd. 1796. person
associatedWith Collins, Priscilla Bullitt person
associatedWith Collins, Priscilla Bullitt. person
associatedWith Colver, Henry A. person
associatedWith Colver, Henry A. person
associatedWith Cook, James, 1728-1779 person
associatedWith Cook, James, d1728-1779. person
associatedWith Dixon, George, d. 1800? person
associatedWith Dixon, George, dd. 1800? person
associatedWith Haley, Andrew G. (Andrew Gallagher) person
associatedWith Haley, Delphine person
associatedWith Haley, Delphine. person
associatedWith Hawkesworth, John, 1715?-1773. person
associatedWith Hawkesworth, John, d1715? -1773. person
associatedWith Hearst Radio Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Hearst Radio Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith KGW-TV (Television station : Portland, Or.) corporateBody
associatedWith King Broadcasting Company corporateBody
associatedWith KING-FM (Radio station : Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith KING-TV (Television station : Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith KREM-TV (Television station : Spokane, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Mahoney, Willis. person
associatedWith Meares, John, 1756?-1809 person
associatedWith Meares, John, d1756? -1809. person
associatedWith Metropolitan Building Company (Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Mobilization for Human Needs (1933 : Washington, D.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith National Association of Broadcasters. Television Code Review Board. corporateBody
associatedWith Ohata family family
associatedWith Ohata family. family
associatedWith Okinawa Plywood Corporation. corporateBody
associatedWith Olmsted Brothers. corporateBody
associatedWith Payne, Ancil H., 1921-2004. person
associatedWith Portlock, Nathaniel, 1748?-1817 person
associatedWith Portlock, Nathaniel, d1748? -1817. person
associatedWith Radio KING (Radio station : Seattle, Wash.) corporateBody
associatedWith Sarton, George, 1884-1956. person
associatedWith Seattle Civilian War Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Stimson, C. D. (Charles Douglas) person
associatedWith Stimson, C. D.  (Charles Douglas) person
associatedWith Stimson family family
associatedWith Stimson family family
associatedWith Stimson, Harriet O. (Harriet Overton) person
associatedWith Stimson, Harriet O.  (Harriet Overton) person
associatedWith Stimson Realty Company. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Washington. Board of Regents. corporateBody
associatedWith Vancouver, George, 1757-1798 person
associatedWith Wallis, Samuel, 1728-1795 person
associatedWith Wallis, Samuel, d1728-1795. person
associatedWith Washington (State). Canal Commission. corporateBody
associatedWith Washington (State). Emergency Relief Administration. corporateBody
associatedWith Western Waves, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Western Waves, Inc. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Washington (State)--Seattle
Northwest Coast of North America
Northwest Coast of North America
Northwest Passage
Pacific Coast (U.S.)
Washington (State)--Spokane
Puget Sound (Wash.)
Washington (State)
Nootka Sound (B.C.)
United States
Northwest, Pacific
Nootka Sound (B.C.)
Puget Sound (Wash.)
Northwest Passage
Broadcasters--Washington (State)--Seattle
Media and Communication
Indians of North America--First contact with Europeans--Pacific Coast (U.S.)--History--Sources
Family-owned business enterprises
Indians of North America--First contact with Europeans--History--Sources
Radio--Production and direction
Radio stations--Washington (State)--Seattle
Sound Recordings
Women broadcasters--Archives
Women in the mass media industry
Explorers--Northwest, Pacific--History--Sources
Television--Production and direction--Washington (State)
Radio programs--Washington (State)
Television broadcasting--Oregon--Portland
Indians of North America--History--Sources
Women political activists--Archives
Women executives--Archives
Real estate management
Hawaiians--First contact with Europeans--History--Sources
Women political activists--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Women civic leaders--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Television stations--Oregon--Portland
Television--Production and direction
Television programs
Moving Images
Expeditions and Adventure
Radio--Production and direction--Washington (State)
Real estate management--Washington (State)
Television broadcasting
Television stations--Washington (State)--Spokane
Television broadcasting--Washington (State)--Seattle
Women broadcasters--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Civic Activism
Women civic leaders--Archives
Radio broadcasting--Oregon--Portland
Family-owned business enterprises--Washington (State)--Seattle
Washington (State)
Voyages around the world--History--Sources
Television stations
Home and Family
City and Town Life
Fur trade--Northwest, Pacific--History--Sources
Radio programs
Radio broadcasting
Advertising and Marketing
Radio stations
Television programs--Washington (State)
Women in the mass media industry--Washington (State)--Seattle
Indians of North America--Pacific Coast (U.S.)--History--Sources
Fur traders--History--Sources
Native Americans
Fur traders--Northwest, Pacific--History--Sources
Women executives--Washington (State)--Seattle--Archives
Radio broadcasting--Washington (State)--Seattle
Fur trade--History--Sources
Television broadcasting--Washington (State)--Spokane
Television stations--Washington (State)--Seattle


Birth 1892-02-05

Death 1989-06-27


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