Dorothy was born the daughter of a minister in Brookfield, Missouri, on March 24, 1899. She graduated from Ottawa University in Kansas in 1920, earned her master’s degree from the University of Chicago, and was awarded her Ph.D. from Columbia University.
Dorothy taught in public high schools in her home town of Brookfield, in Renton, Washington, and then in San Bernardino, California. From there she joined the faculty of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, serving as the Dean of Women and an assistant professor of psychology.
When World War II broke out, Dorothy served her country as a member of the selection board for the WAC (Women’s Army Corps), and she also served as a lieutenant in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). In 1942 she went to Washington, DC, to organize the Women’s Reserve of the US Coast Guard. She served in this capacity until 1946, rising to the rank of captain. She was awarded a Legion of Merit award for her wartime service.
In her later years, Dorothy served from 1947 to 1950 as the director of personnel for the International Monetary Fund, and from 1950 to 1960, she was employed as the national executive director of the Girls Scouts of America.
Dorothy C. Stratton passed away in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2006 at the age of 107. In 2008, the US Coast Guard named a national security cutter, the third of its kind, the USCGC Stratton in her honor.