Biographical Sketch of Myriam Cynthia Dinkins Robinson

Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Myriam Cynthia Dinkins Robinson, 1870-1955

By Brittany O'Neill, Humanities & Social Sciences Librarian: Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA

 

Image of Robinson at age 30, from The Daily Picayune, May 28, 1901, p. 10.

Myriam Robinson was born Myriam Cynthia Dinkins on December 6, 1870 in Canton, Mississippi to Sue E. Hart Dinkins and Captain James Dinkins. Captain Dinkins served in the Confederate Army as Captain of Company C, Eighteenth Mississippi Cavalry and was a member of the Ku Klux Klan. She had two brothers: Earl Jeffery Dinkins, who died in childhood, and Lynn Hamilton Dinkins. By 1886, the family had relocated to Aberdeen, Mississippi. In her youth, Robinson lived as a parlor boarder at Locquet-LeRoy Institute in New Orleans, where students were taught music, French, literature, and etiquette.

Her father's position in the Illinois Central Railroad relocated the family to its southernmost stop in New Orleans. In 1901, she was the Maid of Honor for the Louisiana Division at the Reunion of Confederate Veterans in Memphis, a group her family was heavily involved in after the war. In November of 1903, she married Cecil Guy Robinson, an accountant from London who had immigrated to the United States in 1899. In 1905, she gave birth to her daughter, Lynn, while in Virginia. Lynn would later go on to study at Newcomb College in New Orleans, the first women's college within a university in the United States. In 1909, Robinson gave birth to her son, James.

By 1914, she was actively involved in the suffrage movement. That year, she was elected to the membership of the Era Club (Era standing for “Equal Rights for All”) of New Orleans. Kate Gordon led the Era Club, an organization that fought for a state suffrage amendment that could exclude African-American women from voting rights. Shortly after Robinson joined the Era Club, the club divided over a resolution to offer condolences to President Wilson at the passing of his wife. Kate Gordon asserted that the First Lady was not a suffragist and had influenced the President to deny suffrage rights, so she refused to pass the resolution. The fight was widely covered in the press. It is unclear if Robinson left the club after this division, as she does not appear in later meeting minutes; however, her mother was elected as a director of the club in 1916 and Kate Gordon remained a family friend years later, so it is likely that she continued her involvement. For the Dinkinses, suffrage was a family value; in addition to her and her mother's involvement in the movement, Robinson's father and brother both became members of the Louisiana State Men's League for Woman's Suffrage in its first year. Her father was also a frequent guest speaker at suffrage events and interviewee on the topic in local reporting.

Robinson served in many capacities in the suffrage movement between 1914 and 1920. She served as Treasurer of the Woman Suffrage Party of Louisiana's City Board in 1917. Unlike the Era Club, the Woman Suffrage Party advocated for a federal suffrage amendment. In 1918, she served as a member of the Publicity and Press Committee for the Suffrage House, which was the headquarters for the Suffrage Party in New Orleans. She also served on the Joint Campaign Committee for the Woman Suffrage Party, which was a rare collaboration between the Party and the Era Club. The committee included the presidents and three members from both organizations, advocating together on a campaign for ratification of a state amendment. She served as Chair and member of the Organizing Committee for various events at the Suffrage House throughout 1918, including benefit bridge parties and dances for the Red Cross and other war relief efforts. She organized the Suffrage House's first birthday party, at which she presented their president, Mrs. W. J. O'Donnell, with pink roses and a gold, bejeweled brooch for her dedication to the suffrage effort. In 1919, she served on the Credentials Committee and attended the Louisiana Woman Suffrage Party's final annual convention, during which the organization became the new League of Women Voters, Louisiana division.

She was also dedicated to several other efforts, most notably in 1918. In that year, she volunteered at a Red Cross branch and participated in drives for the War Finance Brigade. She also attended the Washington, D.C. conference of committees as a member of the woman's committee of the Council of National Defense. When Treasury Secretary William McAdoo addressed a crowd of women at the Grunewald Hotel in New Orleans, Robinson was on stage with him, serving as a representative of the Women's Liberty Loan committee.

Although not typically outspoken in the press, Robinson wrote a letter to the editor of the New Orleans Item in 1918 during her tenure on the Suffrage House Press Committee. She asserted that women of society were more than members of the “leisure class.” She described the numerous and varying service activities women took on, “but [were] no less earnest about suffrage.” She wished that women “[would] continue to find work to do, and may they always follow their golden banner of Service and Suffrage.” Choosing to publish this letter in the Item over its competitors was intentional; the Item was an early supporter of suffrage. In addition, Robinson had a close relationship with the Item's publisher, James Thomson, as his wife, Genevieve, was also involved in the Woman Suffrage Party. Robinson acquired stock in the Item through the estate of her brother; this stock was subsequently sold after a new owner acquired the paper. In 1951, she successfully won more than $58,000 in a suit against Thomson over the sale price of the stock in the Louisiana Supreme Court.

After the ratification of the 19th amendment, Robinson remained active in New Orleans society. She was a member of the Colonial Dames, a lineage-based women's organization dedicated to historic preservation, and the Orleans Club, an elite social club. She was an early board member of Le Petit Salon, a cultural club that hosted notable creatives and activists – including Tennessee Williams and Eleanor Roosevelt – and is esteemed for its efforts to restore the French Quarter.

Robinson also enjoyed a close relationship with Elizabeth Gilmer (known by her pen name, Dorothy Dix), who was a well-known journalist and advice columnist for the Times Picayune and the President of Le Petit Salon. Gilmer was also an active suffragist, having presented with Susan B. Anthony at the 1903 National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in New Orleans. After the death of Sue and James Dinkins in the late 1930s, Robinson and Gilmer traveled with family and friends to Grace Episcopal Church in Canton, Mississippi – the church at which Robinson's parents were married – to dedicate a cross in honor of them. Robinson contributed to Gilmer's official biography, Dear Dorothy Dix.

Robinson died on January 5, 1955 at the age of 84 and was interred with her family in Metairie Cemetery. Her son, James, dedicated a mural to her shortly before her death. The mural, The Visitation, is in St. John's Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee.

Sources:

  • New Orleans States
    • British Flag Day of interest to many; New suffrage board organized. (July 7, 1917). New Orleans States, p. 5.
    • Cynthia St. Charles' letter. (1918, February 10). New Orleans States.
    • oCynthia St. Charles' letter. (1918, March 31). New Orleans States.
    • oMcAdoo tells two great audiences of U.S. needs in war: Women throng to hear Mr. M'Adoo. (1918, April 14). New Orleans States, p. 4.
    • Orleans clubwomen leave for meetings. (1918, April 29). New Orleans States, p. 12.
    • Cynthia St. Charles' letter. (1918, October 20). New Orleans States.
    • Are women people? Subject of discussion. (1919, May 18). New Orleans States, p. 1.
  • The New Orleans Item
    • Hundreds of men enlisting under banner of suffrage. (1915, July 25). The New Orleans Item, p. 1.
    • Swamp and 63 cents builds $20,000 girls' home. (1916, May 28). The New Orleans Item, p. 1.
    • oRobinson, C. G. (1918, February 18). Service and suffrage keeping these ladies busy [Letter to the editor]. The New Orleans Item, p. 4.
    • Louisiana League to be entertained at Suffrage House. (March 26, 1918). The New Orleans Item, p. 6.
    • War activities crowd Orleans' Suffrage House. (1918, April 21). The New Orleans Item, p. 5.
    • War wedding and engagements keep N. O. society busy, says Louisianne. (1918, May 8). The New Orleans Item, p. 4.
    • Are YOU with the president? (1918, October 20). [Advertisement from the Woman Suffrage Party of Louisiana]. The New Orleans Item, p. 7.
    • Reception at Suffrage House social feature. (1918, December 6). The New Orleans Item.
    • Red Cross workers lunch at Country Club. (1919, May 5). The New Orleans Item, p. 11.
    • United for amendment suffragists see victory. (1920, April 11). The New Orleans Item, p. 6.
    • oKrebs, K. (1920, September 15). Item reporter first Orleans woman to register; matches papers record for suffrage. The New Orleans Item, p. 7.
    • oSociety. (1937, June 11). The New Orleans Item, pp. F4-F5.
  • The Times-Picayune (also published as The Daily Picayune, The Times-Democrat, and The Daily Picayune)
    • Reunion of Confederate veterans. (1901, May 28). The Daily Picayune, pp. 1 & 10.
    • Polls not so bad, Era Club is told. (1914, April 12). The Times-Democrat and The Daily Picayune, p. 9.
    • Era Club row official report. (1914, August 16). [Advertisement]. The Times-Picayune, p. 43.
    • Louisiana Suffrage League Organized. (1917, March 27). The Times-Picayune, p. 13.
    • Gathering in Suffrage House. (1918, February 24). The Times-Picayune, p. 45.
    • Society. (1918, March 3). The Times-Picayune, p. 5C.
    • Society. (1918, March 24). The Times-Picayune, p. 40.
    • Suffrage League celebrates first birthday Tuesday. (March 27, 1918). The Times-Picayune, p. 4.
    • Social events. (1918, April 3). The Times-Picayune, p. 4.
    • Society. (1918, June 30). The Times-Picayune, p. 3C.
    • Social events. (1919, March 20). The Times-Picayune, p. 6.
    • Suffragists tell masculine guests of their faults. (1919, May 24). The Times-Picayune, p. 8.
    • Woman Suffrage Party to hold last convention. (1919, November 3). The Times-Picayune, p. 13.
    • Club affairs. (1924, December 7). The Times-Picayune, p. 4.
    • Dorothy Dix acts as judge at trial of Capt. Dinkins. (1930, November 16). The Times-Picayune, p. 5.
    • Dorothy Dix going to memorial rites. (1941, April 27). The Times-Picayune/New Orleans States, p. 9.
    • High court acts in stock dispute. (1947, April 22). The Times-Picayune, p. 32.
    • Guyol, L. H. (1951, September 9). Reunion sixty years later. The Times-Picayune, p. 146.
    • Mrs. Robinson rites conducted. (1955, January 6). The Times-Picayune, p. 7.
    • The way it was... (1989, August 12). The Times-Picayune, p. B5.
  • Davies-Rodgers, E. (1983). Heirs through hope: The Episcopal Diocese of West Tennessee. Brunswick, TN: Plantation Press
  • Era Club. (1914-1919). Records of the Era Club. Manuscript Collection (MS-25). New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana Division, New Orleans, Louisiana.
  • Gilley, B. H. (1983). Kate Gordon and Louisiana woman suffrage. Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association, 24 (3), 289-306.
  • Gilmer, E. M. (1941). [Letter to Mary M. Patch]. Dorothy Dix Collection, Austin Peay State University Archives and Special Collections (Box 9, Folder 3), Austin Peay State University Library, Clarksville, TN. Retrieved from https://library.apsu.edu/collections/dix/lettersanddiaries/correspondence.html.
  • Green, E. C. (1997). Southern strategies: Southern women and the woman suffrage question. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
  • Harper, I. H. (Ed.). History of Woman Suffrage, vol. VI (1900-1920). (1922). New York, NY: J. J. Little & Ives.
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  • Lindig, C. M. (1982). The woman's movement in Louisiana: 1879-1920 (doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc331463/m2/1/high_res_d/1002782395-Linding.pdf. (Accession Order No. 1901).
  • Local and other notes. (1886, July 7). The Clarion, p. 3.
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  • McDowell, J. H. (1918). History of the McDowells, Erwins, Irwins and connections. Memphis, TN: C. B. Johnston.
  • Munson, B. (2011, July 19). Myriam Cynthia Dinkins Robinson. Retrieved from https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/73591081/myriam-cynthia-robinson.
  • Myriam Cynthia Dinkins. (n.d.) [Marriage Record to Cecil Guy Robinson]. Louisiana Vital Records, 25, p. 357. Retrieved from http://ancestry.com.
  • Saint John's Episcopal Church. (n.d.) Murals. Retrieved from https://www.stjohnsmemphis.org/about/murals/.
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  • Trimble, G. M. (1974). Le Petit Salon: A history of its fifty years. New Orleans, LA: Winston's Printing Shop.
  • Trimble, G. M. (n.d.) [Archival material]. Sixty Years of Salon Memories. Retrieved from https://library.apsu.edu/collections/dix/researchpapers/DixSixty.pdf.
  • Tyler, P. (2016, March 8). Woman Suffrage. In https://64parishes.org Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Louisiana Endowment for the humanities. Retrieved from https://64parishes.org/entry/womansuffrage.
  • Wilds, J. (1976). After-noon story: A century of the New Orleans States-Item. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press.
  • Warmouth, H. C. (1930). Chapter III. War, politics and reconstruction: Stormy days in Louisiana (pp. 65-86). New York, NY: Macmillan.
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