Oct. 29 Wilkins Lecture features talk on Cora Smith Eaton, one of UND’s first graduates and suffrage leader

Cora Smith-Eaton
Cora Smith-Eaton

To mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, the 2020 UND Department of History Robert P. Wilkins Lecture will feature a talk on Cora Smith Eaton, one of UND’s first graduates, who also became a leader in the state’s suffrage movement.

Kristin Mapel Bloomberg
Kristin Mapel Bloomberg

“‘In the thickest of the fray’: Cora Smith Eaton and the Struggle for Woman Suffrage in North Dakota” will be presented by Kristin Mapel Bloomberg, Hamline University Professor of Women’s Studies and Endowed Chair in the Humanities, at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29 CDT.

Cora Smith (1867-1939) graduated with UND’s first class in 1889, with a B.S. degree. She was also a UND instructor in arithmetic, geography, spelling, and handwriting (1884-1889). She graduated from Boston University in 1892 with a degree in medicine. She was the first woman to take and pass the North Dakota medical board examination. She practiced in Grand Forks from 1892 to 1896 while also teaching calisthenics (1892-1895). She also lobbied for women’s suffrage. On May 30, 1964, Cora Smith Hall, a women’s dormitory on the UND campus, was dedicated in her name.

A dedication ceremony for the new National Votes for Women Trail Marker in Grand Forks will precede the lecture. The ceremony will include a welcome by District Court Judge Lolita G. Hartl Romanick, remarks by States Attorney Haley Wamstad and County Commissioner Cindy Pic, concluding with actual dedication by  Susan Wefald, N.D. Coordinator, National Votes for Women Trail. National and local partners for this project included the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, New York, who paid for the historic marker; and the Grand Forks County Commission, which approved placement and installed the National Votes for Women Trail marker on their grounds.

Register to attend the virtual dedication ceremony and lecture.

About Kristin Mapel Bloomberg
Kristin Mapel Bloomberg is a professor of women’s studies and the Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Hamline University. She holds degrees from Hamline, St. Cloud State University and the University of Nebraska. Her research interests focus on the history, culture, and literature of American women of the 19th century in the Trans-Mississippi West. She has published on a variety of topics such as women’s social and civic organizations, woman suffrage, women and early co-education, and women-authored journals and novels.

About the Wilkins Lecture Series
The Robert P. Wilkins Lecture Series was established by the UND department of history (now the department of history and American Indian Studies) as a tribute to the long service, dedication to teaching, and intellectual curiosity of Professor Robert P. Wilkins (1914-1989).

Wilkins, who earned degrees from Indiana University and West Virginia University , joined the UND History Department in 1945, where he offered courses in Ancient, Medieval, Modern European, American, and Canadian History, and also developed a series of courses on popular culture, particularly in the area of American popular music. His wife, Wynona, taught French. He taught at the University of Oklahoma during a 1962 leave of absence and in 1964 took a position at Marshall University. He returned to UND in 1967 to teach and to be editor of the North Dakota Quarterly, developing it into one of the region’s premier academic journals. He specialized in North Dakota history, and he and Wynona authored North Dakota: A Bicentennial History. He retired in 1981 and continued to conduct research and publish. For a full decade after his retirement, he volunteered to teach at least one class each semester. He died in 1998.