By Shanna Stevenson, independent historian
Cora Smith was born in Rockford, Illinois in 1867 to Sara Barnes and Colonel Eliphaz Smith and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1889.
Following in the steps of her mother, who was active in North Dakota suffrage circles, she joined the Grand Forks Suffrage Club and spoke on suffrage at the 1889 North Dakota Constitutional Convention.
A graduate of Boston University School of Medicine, she was the first woman licensed to practice medicine in North Dakota in 1892. After her marriage to Robert Eaton, she was elected president of the North Dakota Suffrage Association in 1895. The following year she spoke on suffrage before Congress, representing her state.
Eaton moved to Minneapolis in 1896 and was elected president of the Minnesota Suffrage Association in 1897 and was an officer of NAWSA in 1901. After attending the Portland, Oregon NAWSA convention in 1905, she moved to Seattle in 1906 joining the Washington movement. By 1908, Eaton was heralded as being a “leading suffragist” in Washington and as part of the successful legislative campaign for a state constitutional suffrage amendment, which was ratified on November 8, 1910.
A divorcee, Dr. Eaton married Judson King in 1912 and moved to Washington, D.C. where she was active with the National Council of Women Voters and the Congressional Union as well as being Alice Paul’s personal physician.
She participated in the March 3, 1913, Washington, D.C. suffrage march and was a member of the delegation of western voting women who met with President Wilson after the march. Eaton helped organize a suffrage demonstration in Hyattsville, Maryland, on July 31, 1913. She was often called to testify before Congress. Later, King worked with Carrie Chapman Catt in the New York suffrage campaign.
In the late 1910s, Dr. King, with a committee, wrote the “History of Woman Suffrage in Washington,” for the History of Woman Suffrage and contributed as well to the Minnesota information in that work.
After divorcing, she moved to California in 1924, becoming very prominent in the fields of homeopathy and physiotherapy. She died there in 1939.
In 1964, Cora Smith Hall was dedicated in her honor at the University of North Dakota where there is also a scholarship in her name.
The Arena, 1895.
“Congressmen Hear Appeals of Women,” Washington Times, August 14, 1913.
“Conversations with Alice Paul, Woman Suffrage and the Equal Rights Amendment” Amelia Fry, 1976, Suffragists Oral History Project, University of California, Berkeley. http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?query=Cora+Smith+King&docId=kt6f59n89c&chunk.id=0&toc.depth=1&toc.id=0&brand=calisphere
Detailed Chronology, National Woman’s Party History, American Memory, Library of Congress: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/suffrage/nwp/detchron.pdf
Emma Smith DeVoe Papers, Boxes 2, 5, Washington State Library, Olympia, WA.
Irwin, Inez Hayes, The Story of Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, Fairfax, VA: Denlinger’s Publishers, 1977. Originally published 1921.
King, Dr. Cora Smith Eaton, “Women Voters and the Federal Amendment: Message to the Conference from Dr. Cora Smith King, Treasurer of the National Council of Women Voters,” The Suffragist, 2, no. 35 (Aug. 29, 1914).
Larson, T. A., “The Woman Suffrage Movement in Washington,” Pacific Northwest Quarterly (April, 1976), 49-62.
The Library of Congress, “Votes for Women: Selections from the National American Woman Suffrage Association Collection, 1848-1921: Hearing of the National American Women Suffrage Association. Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representative, Washington, D. C., January 28, 1896. pp. 12-13.
Lunardini, Christine A., From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, 1910-1928. New York: New York University Press, 1986.
Mead, Rebecca, How the Vote Was Won: Woman Suffrage in the Western United States, 1868-1914. New York: New York University Press, 2004.
Mabel Vernon Oral History Interview with Amelia Fry, 1971. Suffragists Oral History Project, University of California, Berkeley. http://content.cdlib.org/xtf/view?docId=kt2r29n5pb&doc.view=frames&chunk.id=d0e3212&toc.depth=1&toc.id=d0e2331&brand=oac&query=Cora%20Smith%20King
Obituary for Dr. Cora Smith King, New York Times, November 22, 1939.
Ross-Nazzal, Jennifer, Winning the West for Women: the Life of Suffragist Emma Smith DeVoe, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2011.
Smith, Jean Gardiner letter to Dr. George W. Starcher, January 9, 1963 in the files from the President of the University of North Dakota, Elwyn G. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady, Susan B. Anthony and M. J. Gage, et al eds., History of Woman Suffrage, Vol 1-6, Rochester and New York City, 1881-1922.
Stevenson, Shanna, Women’s Votes, Women’s Voices: The Campaign for Equal Rights in Washington, Tacoma, WA: Washington State Historical Society, 2009.
“Suffragettes Are Here,” Morning Olympian, January 14, 1909, pg. 2.
Theiss, Lewis and Mary, “How Equal Suffrage Was Regained in Washington State,” Pictorial Review, July 1913, pp. 6, 7 and 45.
University of North Dakota President’s File on Cora Smith, Cora E. Smith papers,
Elwyn G. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota.
Witmer, Lillian Leith, “For Cora Smith Hall Dedication May 30, 1964,” unpublished manuscript and letter from files from the President of the University of North Dakota, Elwyn G. Robinson Department of Special Collections, Chester Fritz Library, University of North Dakota.
“Women’s Visit to President Described,” Tacoma Daily News, April 8, 1913.
“Women of Protest: Photographs from the Records of the National Woman's Party,” the Library of Congress website, accessed online at https://www.loc.gov/collections/women-of-protest/about-this-collection/.