Dorothy "Dot" Crocker Putnam was born in Massachusetts on October 15, 1895, the daughter of Frank Wright Putnam and Elle Crocker Putnam. She is a descendant of American Revolutionary War General Israel Putnam, and claimed to be a cousin of Amelia Earhart (although the relationship may have been to Earhart's husband, George Putnam). As a young woman, Putnam was a horseback mail carrier in Oregon. She later moved to Los Angeles, where she developed an interest in automobiles. In 1918, she became the first licensed female chauffeur in California, her clients including Carole Lombard, Charlie Chaplin and Clark Gable. In addition, she also won a number of driving contests in Los Angeles during the 1920s. During World War II, she served in the Women's Ambulance and Transport Corps of California (W.A.T.C.C.), and later the Air Force, rising to the rank of First Lieutenant. After retiring from the Air Force, she became the first female senior truck driver for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.
Lois Mercer was born in California on February 12, 1894. In 1928, she moved to Los Angeles, where she worked as a bookkeeper for an insurance company. In the 1930s, she met Dorothy Putnam, who was her partner for over 50 years. During World War II, Mercer, with Putnam, joined the W.A.T.C.C., and later the Air Force, rising to the rank of Corporal. In 1953, Mercer became bookkeeper at ONE, Inc., where she continued to work part-time until she retired in 1986 at the age of 92.
Putnam and Mercer lived in Los Angeles throughout their 50-year partnership. Lois Mercer died on January 6, 1989, Dorothy Putnam in March 1991.
Source: Dorothy C. Putnam and Lois Mercer Papers, Coll2008-038, ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, California