By Dana Glasscock, undergraduate, University of Oregon
Faculty mentor: Ellen Herman
Cora Isabella Riggs Wold was a member of the Wold family, which included four sisters and one brother. She was born in South Dakota, but spent much of her youth in Oregon. Wold’s mother was widowed early on, but eventually became the center of social life in the Eugene, Oregon area, allowing her home to be a place for conversation and socializing among students and faculty. Cora and her siblings all attended the University of Oregon, and she graduated in 1905 with a degree in Biology. During her college years, Wold was an active member of the newly existing chapter of the Chi Omega Panhellenic sorority, helping to develop its presence on campus. Wold’s efforts included organizing lunches and other events, often collaborating with local women’s groups and other campus groups. A member of campus choirs in all four years of her studies, Wold would go on to sing at many society events, and train in soprano opera methods. Her siblings also took advantage of the opportunities provided by the University of Oregon, and several became prominent leaders in campus groups and political movements.
After graduating, Cora went on to fill many roles, including teaching mathematics at the high school level in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding area. Wold’s teaching and dedication to her students allowed her to work in diverse schools and roles in and around Portland, eventually also teaching in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. While teaching in Portland, Wold was a member of society groups and the local Grange administration. Wold also served as treasurer of the Oregon Alumni Association in Portland, working alongside her sister Emma Wold, who served as president.
Cora and the other Wold siblings were active in the Oregon suffrage campaigns, and were known to work together throughout their lives. Her work as a teacher took a pause in the years of women’s suffrage movements while she worked with the National Woman’s Party (NWP), including picketing the White House in 1917-18. Wold protested President Wilson’s refusal to support the Susan B. Anthony Amendment for women’s suffrage, and as such risked arrest and prosecution like her fellow protestors. In one protest on August 6, 1918, Cora Wold was arrested along with dozens of other NWP activists including her sister, Clara Wold, during a large demonstration involving nearly 100 women at the Lafayette Monument across from the White House. Cora did not serve time in jail on this occasion, though Clara did. These arrests and efforts were a part of the broader work by the NWP, directed by leaders including Alice Paul, and Wold’s sister Emma Wold, who served as secretary of the National Headquarters in these years. Cora eventually retired from work and resided in New York during her later years.
Webfoot 1905 University of Oregon Year Book. 1905. Special Collections: University Digital Archives, Eugene, Oregon.
MacQueen, Joseph. "Music Section." The Sunday Oregonian (Portland), August 8, 1920.
"News of the County," Oregon City Courier, January 8, 1909.
"Portland Girls Arrested," The Morning Oregonian, August 12, 1918.
Inez Haynes Irwin, The Story of the Woman's Party (New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1921), 363-69.