Dunne, Amy Cresswell Bell (1873–1951)

By: William V. Scott

Type: Biography

Published: November 14, 2018

Updated: December 8, 2021

Amy Cresswell Bell Dunne, teacher, newspaper woman, political writer, and suffragist, was born at Harrisburg, Van Buren County, Iowa, on November 17, 1873. She was the daughter of John Creswell and Sarah Elizabeth (Johnson) Cresswell. At an early age, Amy Cresswell moved to San Antonio, Texas, and was a graduate of San Antonio High School; she later became a schoolteacher. Cresswell married Bascom Bell, a San Antonio attorney, on January 10, 1897, in Brewster County, Texas. Bell and Cresswell divorced; however, they had one daughter, Eleanor C. Bell. By 1910 Cresswell was on the staff of the San Antonio Express and served as the society section editor for the San Antonio Light and Gazette and married her fellow newspaperman William Louis Dunne on March 17, 1911. They had one son, William L. Dunne, Jr. Her husband was involved in a colonization attempt in Mexico under Porfirio Díaz. He took part in a counterrevolution with San Antonio liquor dealer, Dan de Villiers, in an  assassination attempt of Francisco Madero. The conspirators were agents of Andrés Garza Galan, an avid Díaz supporter. During World War I, Dunne relocated to Washington, D. C., where she worked in U. S. Army Intelligence.

Throughout Texas, suffrage organizations formed in Dallas, Houston, Galveston, and San Antonio. Dunne was active in both women’s and educational groups and served as secretary of both the San Antonio Equal Franchise Society and the Texas Conference for Education. In 1913 the Texas Equal Suffrage Association held its convention in San Antonio, and seven local chapters sent delegates. At the convention Mary Eleanor Brackenridge, the organizer and leader of the San Antonio society, was elected as president. Amy Cresswell Dunne served on the legislative committee in 1915 and became legislative chairman of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs. Soon after, the Texas Federation endorsed woman suffrage. By 1925 Dunne lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, and in 1927 she moved to Washington, D. C., to work for the Department of the Interior. Dunne served as Historian General for the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution from 1932 to 1935. She served as chairman of the National Publicity Committee and in this role edited a variety of publications, including the 1933 Lineage Book of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Dunne received a citation by the French Academy of Beaux Art in 1933 for her history of the French in the American Revolution at the battle of Yorktown. Amy Cresswell Dunne also worked for a sugar economist and finally as a clerk for the Veterans Administration with nearly thirty years of service. She was also an early female political writer and wrote under her maiden name of Amy Cresswell. Census records for 1940 place her, William, and their son William L. Dunne, Jr., and daughter-in-law Bessie C. Dunne in Washington, D. C. Amy Cresswell Dunne died on October 22, 1951, at her apartment in Washington, D. C., and was buried at the Fort Lincoln Cemetery in Brentwood, Prince George’s County, Maryland.

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“Amy Cresswell Dunne,” Find A Grave Memorial (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/213890307/amy-cresswell-dunne), accessed December 1, 2021. Jessica S. Brannon-Wranosky, Southern Promise and Necessity: Texas, Regional Identity, and the National Woman Suffrage Movement, 1868–1920 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Texas, 2010). Minnie Fisher Cunningham Papers, University of Houston Library Archives. Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), October 24, 25, 1951. Jane Y. McCallum Papers, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library. San Antonio Light, March 30, 1913. Ruthe Winegarten and Judith N. McArthur, eds., Citizens at Last: The Woman Suffrage Movement in Texas (Austin: Temple, 1987; College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2015).

  • Education
  • Educators
  • General Education
  • Journalism
  • Newspapers
  • Editors and Reporters
  • Women
  • Suffragists and Antisuffragists
Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • San Antonio
  • Central Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

William V. Scott, “Dunne, Amy Cresswell Bell,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/dunne-amy-cresswell-bell.

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November 14, 2018
December 8, 2021

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