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Marion Dickerman

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Marion Dickerman

Marion Dickerman
Born April 11, 1890
Westfield, New York
Died May 16, 1983(1983-05-16) (aged 93)
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Alma mater Wellesley College
Syracuse University
Occupation Suffragist, educator
Partner(s) Nancy Cook

Marion Dickerman (April 11, 1890 – May 16, 1983) was an American suffragist, educator, vice-principal of the Todhunter School and an intimate of Eleanor Roosevelt.

Birth and early life

Born in Westfield, New York she studied for two years at Wellesley College before transferring to Syracuse University from which she was graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1911 and a graduate degree in education in 1912.


She taught first at Canisteo, New York, and in 1913 moved to Fulton, New York, where she taught American history at Fulton High School. It was here that she again met Syracuse classmate Nancy Cook, who taught arts and handicrafts at the same School. These two women become lifelong partners, spending almost their entire adult lives together, although Dickerman would also become involved in other lesbian relationships off and on.

Her respect for Woodrow Wilson's vision overcame her strong antiwar sentiments and she and Cook both became active in the Red Cross. As Dickerman later recounted, she "really believed this was a war to end wars and make the world safe for democracy." In 1918, they both traveled to London to assist the women-staffed Endell Street Military Hospital and "scrub floors or perform whatever other chores were required."

After their return she briefly entertained political aspirations but accepted the position of dean at the Trenton State College in Trenton, New Jersey in 1921. Unhappy there, she one year later joined the faculty at the Todhunter school. Cook who was now the executive secretary of the Women's Division of the State Democratic Committee would travel together with her in 1922 to Hyde Park where they would meet Eleanor Roosevelt. Their common dedication to politics, education, and progressive reform would lead to a friendship that some speculate to be romantic, and in the purchase of the Todhunter School in 1927 and the three women would share the Val-Kill property.

Lorena Hickok took an active dislike to her and this started to unravel the relationship between the three. By 1936 Val-Kill Industries was disbanded. Dickerman and Cook continued to live in Stone Cottage until after Franklin D. Roosevelt's death in 1945. They sold all interest in the Val-Kill property to Eleanor in 1947 when they moved to New Canaan, Connecticut, where Dickerman became the educational programing director for the Marine Museum.

Dickerman was active in numerous organizations, including the American Association of University Women as president of the New York State Division.

She died in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.


  • Cook, Blanche Wiesen. Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume One, 1884-1933. New York: Viking Press, 1993
  • Cook, Blanche Wiesen. Eleanor Roosevelt: Volume Two, 1933-1938. New York: Viking Press, 1999
  • Davis, Kenneth. Invincible Summer: An Intimate Portrait of the Roosevelts Based on the Recollections of Marion Dickerman. New York: Atheneum Press, 1974

External links

  • Works by or about Marion Dickerman in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
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