Women’s History Spotlight’s a DML Icon

In January 1928, the Electra C. Doren Branch opened to great fanfare in its Old North Dayton neighborhood.

Named for Electra Collins Doren, Chief Librarian for the Dayton Library who passed away in March of the previous year, the E.C. Doren Branch remains one of the few public buildings in the United States named for a woman.

Doren herself was an innovator in the field of Library Science and an influential woman at the turn of the 20th Century. She held prominent offices with the American Library Association and the Ohio Library Association. She was an advocate for women's right to vote and was a respected and beloved figure in Dayton.

During her tenure as Chief Librarian from 1896 to 1905, the first branch libraries opened, and the first book wagon served outlying areas. She started a library training school, only the second of its kind in the U.S. After a major reorganization, she opened the library's shelves to the public for the first time. Previously, only library workers could access the shelves and retrieve items for the public.

From 1905 to 1913, she served as the first Director of the School of Library Science at Case Western Reserve University. She returned to Dayton in 1913 to rebuild the Library's collection after the devastation of the great flood. In 1997, Electra C. Doren was inducted into the Dayton’s Walk of Fame, and in 1999 she was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame.

Her collection on women's suffrage materials including diaries, scrapbooks, and correspondence, is the basis for our Women's Suffrage Collection, opens a new window today, which is one of the largest suffrage collections in the U.S. 

Want to do some research? Visit DML's Dayton Room, opens a new window for all of your local history and genealogy resources - find information on Doren and so much more!