McAllister, Dorothy Smith, 1899-1983

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Grand Rapids, Michigan, civic leader, director of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee, 1937-1941, later member of various state and local commissions.

From the description of Dorothy Smith McAllister papers, ca. 1932-1967. (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 78558909

Dorothy Smith McAllister was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1899, the daughter of a prominent local surgeon, Richard Root Smith and his wife, Myra (Raiguel Wonderly) Smith. In 1915 she graduated from the Maderia School in Greenway, Virginia. Continuing her education at Bryn Mawr College, she received her A.B. degree with honors in 1920. Thirty years later she earned her master's degree with honors in political science from the University of Michigan.

From 1928 to 1931 she held office as president of the Junior League of Grand Rapids. From there, she joined the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform, and served as member of the board and chairman of the State Committee on Temperance Education.

From 1937 to 1941, during the second administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Mrs. McAllister served as the director of the Women's Division of the Democratic National Committee. In this capacity, she gave speeches throughout the country in support of the New Deal and Roosevelt. She was also strongly involved in the Division's "Reporter Plan," a system designed to make the average citizen more aware of policies and activities of the Roosevelt Administration.

Mrs. McAllister resigned her political positions when President Roosevelt appointed her husband a federal judge. Soon thereafter, she accepted a Presidential appointment to the Volunteer Participation Committee in the 6th Army Corps Area Office of Civilian Defense. After World War II, her involvement in civic affairs was primarily on the state and local level.

McAllister was heavily involved in affairs of the state of Michigan. She served on a total of ten different state commissions, among which were civil rights, migratory labor, social security, and revision of the state constitution. She received her appointments from six different Michigan governors over a thirty-year period.

On the local level, in the early 1950s, Mrs. McAllister did a study with Helen Claytor on the need for a human relations commission in Grand Rapids. As a result, a commission was formed in 1955. Mrs. McAllister was appointed to it and served for 10 years, mainly as chairman of its housing and anti-poverty committees.

From the guide to the Dorothy Smith McAllister papers, ca. 1932-1967, (Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf McAllister, Dorothy Smith, 1899-1983. Dorothy Smith McAllister papers, ca. 1932-1967. University of Michigan, Bentley Historical Library
referencedIn National Consumers' League. National Consumers' League records, 1882-1986 (bulk 1920-1950). Library of Congress
referencedIn Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. Papers: Series III-IV, 1900-1972 (inclusive) [microform]. Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
creatorOf Dorothy Smith McAllister papers, ca. 1932-1967 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. Papers of Molly Dewson, 1893-1962 Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America‏
referencedIn National Consumers' League Records, 1882-1986, (bulk 1920-1950) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Furman, Bess, 1894-1969. Bess Furman papers, 1728-1967 (bulk 1900-1966). Library of Congress
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Consumers League of Michigan. corporateBody
associatedWith Democratic National Committee (U.S.). Women's Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Dewson, Molly, 1874-1962. person
correspondedWith Furman, Bess, 1894-1969. person
associatedWith Miller, Emma Guffey, 1874-1970. person
associatedWith National Consumers' League. corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Grand Rapids (Mich.)
United States
Grand Rapids (Mich.)
United States
Civil rights--Michigan
Civil rights
Discrimination in employment--Michigan
Discrimination in employment


Birth 1899

Death 1983



Ark ID: w6r007vr

SNAC ID: 60786493