Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920
Biography of Catherine America Hopkins Hoffman, 1855-1920
By Kimberly Cashman, instructor, Cloud County Community College, Concordia, Kansas
5th District President, State Federation of Women's Clubs; President and Press Chairman, Kansas Equal Suffrage Association; Vice President and President, League of Women Voters of Kansas
Catherine America Hopkins was born on March 16, 1855 in Botetourt County, Virginia to Samuel Wilson Hopkins and Nancy Rollin Brough. She married Christian Balzac Hoffman in 1872 and then moved to Enterprise, Kansas in 1873. Catherine bore 2 daughters and 4 sons between 1873 and 1881; Iona (1873-1879), Ralph (1874-1949), Emmett (1875-1924), Walter (1878-1898), Daisy (1879-1968), and Thaddeus (1881-1933). Catherine supported Christian as he built several large and successful lumber and mill companies in and around Enterprise until Christian moved to Kansas City to better support the socialist movement. Christian filed for divorce in 1910 just as Catherine's involvement in various women's movements was picking up and cited her unwillingness to leave Enterprise and move to Kansas City. Catherine never remarried as she was busy seeing to the passage of the 19th Amendment. Sadly, Catherine died just 2 months before the amendment was passed.
Catherine Hoffman became involved in agitating for the right of women to vote in an indirect fashion. After her son, Walter, became ill and died of consumption in the early 1900s, Catherine decided to help fight the cause of her son's death. In working with the Health Department, she brought awareness about the suspected causes of tuberculosis and how to help prevent the spread of the disease. While she was raising awareness for tuberculosis, she was also helping to raise awareness about preserving the land's timber. Catherine also served on the forestry committee within the State Federation of Women's Clubs (SFWC). From 1906-1908, Catherine was president of the 5th district within the State Federation of Women's Club.
From 1906-1920, there are numerous articles within Kansas newspapers that highlight Catherine's transition to and climb within the suffrage movement. By 1909, Catherine was engaged in an election race for the presidency of the SFWC against C.C. Goddard out of Leavenworth. She lost that election but not for a lack of trying. But her efforts did not go unnoticed. Catherine went on to become President of the Kansas Equal Suffrage Association (KESA) in 1910. She remained in this position through her divorce. By 1912, Catherine had decided to not run for re-election as president to become the Press Chairman for KESA. In her new position, she helped usher in the passage of the new state law that gave women the right to vote in Kansas on November 5, 1912. The Abilene Daily Reflector gave credit to Catherine in their November 20, 1912 issue for her skillful handling of the media, thousands of miles she traveled to deliver speeches in almost every county in the state, and her personal contribution of time and money to the cause.
After Kansas women gained the right to vote within their state, the KESA followed the path of other state groups and dissolved into another group that advocated for other issues important to women and the community. KESA was replaced by the League of Women Voters of Kansas in June 1919 where Catherine served as vice president and then president until her death a year later in June 1920.
Find A Grave. “Walter C. Hoffman.” Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=85644902 (accessed September 5, 2017).
Hoffman, Catherina A. Hopkins, ed. by John William Leonard. In Woman's Who's Who of America: A Biographical Dictionary of Contemporary Women of the United States and Canada, 1914-1915, ed. by John William Leonard. (New York, NY: American Commonwealth Company, 1914). pp. 395. [LINK]
Londeen, Donna. “Catherine American Hopkins Hoffman.” Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=54823039 (accessed September 5, 2017).
Londeen, Donna. “Christian Balzac ‘Carl' Hoffman.” Find A Grave. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=54822971 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“Clubs.” Salina Evening Journal, June 6, 1906. https://www.newspapers.com/image/93008627 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“In Club Circle.” The Evening Kansan-Republican, April 14, 1909. https://www.newspapers.com/image/94175604/?terms=Catherine%2Ba%2Bhoffman (accessed September 5, 2017).
“For President S.F.W.C.” The Times (Clay Center, Kansas), April 15, 1909. https://www.newspapers.com/image/71510981 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“With The Club Women of Kansas.” Topeka Daily Capital, April 24, 1910. https://www.newspapers.com/image/63926806 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“Chris Hoffman Gets A Divorce.” Chanute Daily Tribute (Chanute, Kansas), July 19, 1910. https://www.newspapers.com/image/95654058 (accessed September 5, 2017).
Abilene Daily Reflector, November 12, 1912. https://www.newspapers.com/image/105633146 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“Women in Booze Protest.” Kansas City Kansan, June 13, 1919. https://www.newspapers.com/image/59401671 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“In A Suffrage State.” Emporia Gazette, August 29, 1912. https://www.newspapers.com/image/10253015 (accessed September 5, 2017).
“Mrs. Catherine Hoffman, Kansas Club Woman, Dies.” Topeka Daily Capital, June 11, 1920. https://www.newspapers.com/image/64431575 (accessed September 5, 2017).
Catherine A. Hoffman, “In a Suffrage State,” The Emporia Gazette, August 29, 1912, p. 1.
Catherine A. Hoffman, “Editor Reflector,” Abilene Daily Reflector, July 2, 1914, p. 2.