Established in 1926 by a prominent, reform-minded physician and his suffragist wife, the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation is a leading supporter of social science research for Los Angeles. It is also the oldest private foundation in the city.
Each year, the Foundation spends up to $3 million in distributing grants and scholarships to various public and private institutions, most of them local. These funds, in turn, are used to encourage study and research into the underlying causes of social problems in Los Angeles and to recommend ways of addressing them.
Over the years, the Foundation has funded hundreds of important urban studies in the areas of education, transportation, local government, elections, public safety, demographics, public personal services and natural resources. In doing so, the Foundation has remained true to its founder’s philosophy of promoting “the social betterment of mankind.”
John Randolph Haynes
Born in 1853 in Fairmont Springs, Pennsylvania, Haynes grew up in the state’s anthracite coal region, witnessing the back-breaking work and poverty of the coal mining community. At the age of ten, he and his family moved to Philadelphia, where he eventually opened a medical practice after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with an M. D. and a Ph.D. In 1882 he married Dora Fellows, a family friend from central Pennsylvania, who worked with John in the medical office and in his later reform endeavors. For health reasons, most of the Haynes family moved in 1887 to Los Angeles, where John became one of the city’s busiest physicians.
It was in the City of Angels that Haynes embarked on his reform career. At the age of forty-four in 1897, he helped to organize a local chapter of the Union Reform League. Founded by William Dwight Porter Bliss, the League’s long-range goal was Christian socialism, but in the meantime it settled for immediate reforms: woman suffrage, direct legislation, public ownership of utilities, civil service, graduated taxes, and other objectives of Progressive-era crusaders. This non-revolutionary program appealed to Haynes, who once confessed to a friend that he was an opportunist “willing to accept a quarter of a loaf if I cannot get a half and a half if I cannot get a whole.”
In the next four decades Haynes became the major reform figure in Los Angeles and one of the most important in California. In local politics he served on numerous city charter revision committees, including the freeholders board which created the 1924 charter that guides the city today. He was instrumental in placing direct legislation in the Los Angeles city charter in 1902, making the city the first American municipality to embrace the recall of public officers. Haynes served on the city’s civil service commission for a dozen years, was appointed to a number of other city and county positions, and became the city’s leading force for public ownership in the 1920s and 30s in his capacity as a member of the Board of Water and Power Commissioners. A dominant influence in Los Angeles politics, he helped to guide the city’s urban progressive movement from the early 1900s through the beginning of the New Deal.
At the state level, Dr. Haynes was involved in many Progressive era issues. Contributing heavily to the cause of state insurgents (both actively and financially), he became an advisor to three governors, a key strategist in state progressive politics, and was appointed to a half-dozen state commissions, including the University of California Board of Regents. For over three decades he was by far the dominant force in the inclusion of direct legislation in the California constitution, and in the protection of the initiative, referendum, and recall amendments from attacks by legislators and interest groups. In the 1920s he also was a major figure in the statewide campaign for public control of water and power resources, and assisted Dora Haynes in her 1911 campaign to win woman suffrage in the Golden State.
Beyond state and local issues, Haynes supported a number of other causes. Since 1911 he campaigned for federal laws to protect America’s coal miners and other workers. From 1905 he contributed to the Socialist movement (both nationally and locally), and to national organizations promoting “half-way” measures such as public ownership and direct legislation. In the 1920s he became Southern California’s leading advocate of protective legislation for Native Americans throughout the nation. Haynes was actively involved in all of these and other movements at the local, state, and national levels at the time he died in 1937.
Dora Fellows Haynes
Dora Fellows Haynes (1859-1934) was born and grew up in the coal mining region of Pennsylvania. Her father, like her future husband’s, was a mine manager, and the two families were friends. John and Dora married in 1882 after Dora returned to Pennsylvania from a year?s attendance at Wellesley College. Their only child, Sidney, died at the age of three of scarlet fever, an event that motivated the couple’s move across country to the budding metropolis of Los Angeles. There, John set up a medical practice and entered into business as a real estate investor. He and Dora established themselves in local society, and Dora became a busy hostess as well as assisting in her husband’s medical office. She joined the Friday Morning Club, the Ruskin Art Club, and other groups involved in cultural and civic affairs.
As John’s interest in political ideas and social reform gained momentum during the 1890’s, so did Dora’s. They embraced the emerging progressive movement that was sweeping the nation, first at the local and then at the state level. As a charter member of the Friday Morning Club, a discussion and service organization that gradually became involved in civic affairs, Dora worked with other influential women in support of progressive objectives. Her particular concern was women’s suffrage, and by 1909 she was considered to be one of Los Angeles’s prominent suffragists.
After passage of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920, Dora Haynes continued her suffrage work by helping to found the state and local chapters of the League of Women Voters that would educate new voters on the political process. Although declining health limited her involvement as the decade advanced, Dora found time and strength to help direct the local league and remained active in Friday Morning Club causes. At this time also, she and her husband established the John Randolph and Dora Haynes Foundation in 1926.
Dora’s health deteriorated seriously after 1929 when, according to her husband, she developed Hodgkins Disease that kept her bedridden at the end of her life. Dora?s passing in 1934 robbed the doctor of his spouse and his accomplice in social betterment. Married to John for fifty-two years, Dora Haynes supported his many reform efforts and was an important contributor in her own right.